Impacts of climate change on children
We propose the following five reasons we believe that children are one of the most vulnerable groups to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation and ask others to propose additions, subtractions and modifications to this list:
- Children can suffer irreversible impacts that affect lifetime earnings potential and lead to the intergenerational transmission of poverty (Mitchell, 2016)
- They are also a key stakeholder, in the present as well as in future — children make up 30 per cent of the world’s population, and globally, there are nearly twice as many children under 15 as there are adults over 60 (UNDESA, 2015).
- Children are physiologically and psychologically less able to cope with the impacts of climate change (Sheffield and Landrigan, 2011; UNICEF, 2011; Doherty and Clayton, 2011)
- Their exclusion from decision-making processes exacerbates these inherent vulnerabilities (Seballos, 2009)
It is the most vulnerable children — those facing multiple levels of discrimination — that experience the most pervasive violation of their rights (UNICEF, 2014).
More broadly, we argue that climate change is a key driver of poverty (Brainard et al, 2009) and that we will not be able to eradicate poverty without solving the climate crisis (Gutierrez et al, 2013) for the following reasons (again, please add, subtract or modify). Climate change is projected to:
- Slow down economic growth (Hallegatte et al, 2016)
- Make poverty reduction more difficult (Brainard et al, 2009)
- Further erode food security (Tacoli et al, 2013)
- Prolong existing and create new poverty traps, particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger (IPCC, 2014)
- Have (actual and potential) impacts on all development sectors (IPCC, 2014)
- Pose a significant threat to the attainment of human rights (Moss, 2009)
What we need to know?
More empirical evidence is required to guide economic policies to help reduce the impacts of climate change on children. We identify the following five key evidence gaps (please propose additions, subtractions and modifications):
- Which interventions addressing climate change impacts broadly have the most beneficial outcomes for children?
- Which policy-settings generate the most equitable climate change outcomes for children, now and in future?
- Do child-centred approaches to addressing climate change have sustainable impact beyond project life?
- Do child-centred approaches to addressing climate change generate adaptation dividends beyond the target group (i.e. for broader communities and societies)?
- Does child participation in local level adaptation planning change the outcome (i.e. are plans different, do they better address children’s needs and capacities?)
Three proposals for consideration (please propose additions, subtractions and modifications)
1. Ensure climate risk screening and child-centred adaptation are core components of all child poverty-related projects: this would help increase the sustainability of outcomes, help ensure children are better prepared for a harsher future climate, and provide a basis for building broader organisational resilience (Mitchell and Bourchard, 2014).
2. Integrate climate change into broader socio-economic plans and strategies by asking what are the key climate-related challenges facing children in [this country/sector]
a. During the strategy period
b. In the future
and what can we do to manage these challenges now?
3. Include climate change as a key driver of child poverty in advocacy initiatives. The ‘Zero Poverty, Zero Emissions’ campaign launched in 2014 is a good example of this approach (Granoff et al, 2015).
Mitchell and Borchard (2014) Mainstreaming children’s vulnerabilities and capacities into community-based adaptation to enhance impact. Climate and Development 6(4), p.372-381 <https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10 ... 014.934775>
UNICEF (ed.) (2014) The Challenges of climate change: Children on the front line. UNICEF Office of Research: Florence <https://www.unicef.org/publications/index_74647.html>
Mitchell, Paul. (2016) Children in a changing climate: How child-centered approaches can build resilience and overcome multiple barriers to adaptation. In Godfrey and Torres (2016) Emergent Possibilities for Global Sustainability: Intersections of Race, Class and Gender. Routledge: New York
(UNDESA) United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2015) World population prospects: The 2015 revision, p.1-2 <http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Publications ... P_2015.pdf>
Sheffield and Landrigan (2011) Global climate change and children’s health: threats and strategies for prevention. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(3), pp. 291-298
UNICEF (2011) Children’s vulnerability to climate change and disaster impacts in East Asia and the Pacific. Bangkok: UNICEF
Doherty and Clayton (2011) The psychological impacts of global climate change. American Psychologist, 66(4), pp. 265-276
Seballos (2009) Children’s participation in community-based disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change. Participatory Learning and Action, 60, pp.54-64
UNICEF (2014) State of the World’s Children 2015. UNICEF: New York
Brainard et al (2009) Climate change and global poverty: A billion lives in the balance? Brookings Institution Press: Washington D.C.
Gutierrez et al (2013) Zero poverty... think again. Overseas Development Institute: London
Hallegatte et al (2016) Shock waves: Managing the impacts of climate change on poverty. World Bank: Washington D.C.
Tacoli et al (2013) Urban poverty, food security and climate change. Human Settlements Working Paper No.37. International Institute of Environment and Development: London
IPCC (2014) Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change <https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/syr/>
Moss, J (2009). Climate change and social justice. Melbourne University Press: Melbourne
Granoff et al (2015) Zero poverty, zero emissions: Eradicating extreme poverty in the climate crisis. Overseas Development Institute: London