On World Children’s Day, UNICEF joins partners to advocate for climate action, emphasizing the urgent need for increased investments to protect the future of children and young people.
The UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell, in her statement on World Children’s Days stated that “Climate change, in particular, is an existential threat to the health and wellbeing of this and future generations of children. Globally, more than 1 billion children currently live in countries that are at ‘extremely high-risk’ from the impacts of climate change. This means half the world’s children could suffer irreparable harm as our planet continues to warm. They could lose their homes or schools to increasingly violent storms … they could suffer from severe wasting because local crops have dried up from drought … or they could lose their lives to heat waves or pneumonia brought on by air pollution”.
In Sierra Leone, like many nations, grapples with the consequences of extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels, and environmental degradation. Children and their families in the country have faced the harsh realities of climate change, with their lives repeatedly disrupted by floods and landslides. These challenges significantly impact vulnerable communities, intensifying existing inequalities and jeopardizing children’s rights to survival, protection, and development. This demands immediate attention and action to combat climate change and its impacts, especially on Sierra Leone’s youngest citizens, in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13.
“Climate action is not just an environmental obligation; it is an investment in the well-being, health, and opportunities for our children and youth,” says Mr. Rudolf Schwenk, UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone. “By prioritizing their well-being, education and empowerment, we are investing in a resilient future”.
As part of activities organized to commemorate World Children’s Day led by young people to raise awareness around climate issues, UNICEF worked with the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs and National Commission for Children (NCC) and children and youth to organize an advocacy symposium and panel discussion on Child Rights and the impact of climate change on children and young people.
Collective efforts are needed to build resilient communities, enhance disaster preparedness, and implement sustainable development initiatives that prioritize the needs of children, who account for about 3.9 million of the country’s population.
As the impacts of climate change intensify, our joint effort to mitigate its effects is crucial for safeguarding future generations. By implementing sustainable practices, fostering environmental education, and adopting policies that prioritize climate resilience, we can create a legacy of resilience and sustainability.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNICEF Sierra Leone.