Over 700 million children face ‘double risk’ of poverty & climate crisis

A third of the world’s child population faces the double risk of poverty and climate hazards, says Save the Children on World Environment Day.

Jun 06, 2023

FILE PHOTO: A man swims in flood waters while heading for a higher ground, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Charsadda

By Zeus Legaspi
Rights organization, Save the Children, urged world leaders to safeguard the future of new generations as they face the “double risk” of poverty and the climate crisis.

Coinciding with World Environment Day on 5 June, the organization warned that 774 million children – a third of the world’s child population – are being exposed to the risks of the impacts of climate change.

The group, in a statement on Monday, lamented that children “have contributed least to the climate crisis, but are most exposed to the impacts of climate change, which can prevent them from accessing food, water, health assistance, and education.”

The organization said that this “double risk of poverty and of the climate crisis” puts the lives and future of the new generation at significant risk.

The World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that at least 1.7 million children under the age of five die every year due to air and water contamination or exposure to toxic substances while over 14 million children lack access to clean water, increasing their risk of contracting water-borne diseases.

Further, WHO said that more than 37 million children lose access to education yearly due to environmental hazards related to climate change and epidemics.

‘Crisis of children’s rights’
“The climate crisis has an impact on almost every aspect of children's lives, from having enough food to a safe and secure home to being able to concentrate in the classroom during heatwaves," said Save the Children chief Inger Ashing.

The organization stressed that the climate crisis is “a crisis of children’s rights, which affects the youngest first and raises a question of intergenerational justice.”

“It is precisely children who are most affected by inequality and discrimination, and suffer the weight of climate change,” said Ashing.

“Listen to them (children) and step-up finance and climate action in view of the climate negotiations that open today in Bonn and the review of the status of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the General Assembly of the United Nations in September,” urged Save the Children.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is holding a conference in Bonn, Germany, where member parties are expected to lay the path for a successful COP28 in December.

Youth involvement
Amid the worsening climate crisis, Ashing said that more young people have been active in holding polluters accountable in recent years.

“For years now, we have seen children and young people around the world take to the streets, march and demand their leaders take action to tackle the climate crisis,” said the Save the Children chief.

Ashing also reminded leaders that this year marks the halfway point of the SDGs agreed upon seven years ago and that 2023 is “a crucial time to reflect on where we are now and to determine the steps forward for children around the world.”

To reach more young people on World Environment Day, Save the Children launched a movement on social media, using the hashtag #savethefuture, to show how climate change threatens the health and development of children. --Vatican News

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