At the ongoing Conference of the Parties (COP27) in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, the UNICEF has urged Parties to urgently prevent a climate catastrophe; protect every child from the accelerating impacts of climate change; prepare children and youth through the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Action Plan; prioritise children and youth by accelerating climate finance investment in climate-resilient social services; and commit to child-sensitive climate action.
The Conference which is scheduled to run until 18th November this year has revealed that UNICEF’s immediate humanitarian response to flood-affected countries is wide-ranging across all sectors: health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection, and education.
It has further informed that a lack of funding, however, has hampered the response in many countries and that UNICEF is working to strengthen the resilience of communities and health infrastructure to withstand disaster-related hazards, and increasingly linking our work on humanitarian response and longer-term climate adaptation.
The Conference has also unearthed that over 27 million children are at risk as devastating floods set records across the world and that the number of children affected by flooding in some parts of the world is the highest in over 30 years.
The UNICEF has further warned that this year has brought overwhelming flooding to at least 27.7 million children in 27 countries worldwide.
It says a large majority of the 27.7 million children affected by flooding in 2022 are among the most vulnerable and are at high risk of a multitude of threats including death by drowning, disease outbreaks, lack of safe drinking water, malnutrition, disruption in learning, and violence.
“We are seeing unprecedented levels of flooding all around the world this year, and with it, an explosion in threats to children,” said Paloma Escudero, Head of the UNICEF Delegation for COP27.
Paloma went on saying: “The climate crisis is here. In many places, the flooding is the worst it has been in a generation, or several. Our children are already suffering at a scale their parents never did.”
She said the aftermath of floods is often more deadly for children than the extreme weather events that caused the flooding; adding that in 2022, floods have contributed to the increased spread of major killers of children, such as Malnutrition, Malaria, Cholera and Diarrhea.
“COP27 provides an opportunity to chart a credible roadmap with clear milestones for finance for climate adaptation and solutions for loss and damage,” said Paloma Escudero. She added: “Young people from the most affected places on Earth are drowning in climate inaction. Enough is enough. Lives are on the line – children need action now.”
Additionally, the United Nations recently warned that some communities are likely to face starvation if humanitarian assistance is not sustained and climate adaptation measures are not scaled-up.
In addition to threatening the lives of millions of children, the flood waters have disrupted essential services and displaced countless families.
As well as pressing governments and big business to rapidly reduce emissions, UNICEF urges leaders to take immediate action to protect children from climate devastation by adapting the critical social services they rely on.
Adaptation measures, like creating water, health and education systems that stand up to flooding and drought, will save lives.
Last year, developed countries agreed to double support for adaptation to $40 billion a year by 2025. At COP27, they must present a credible roadmap with clear milestones on how this will be delivered, as a step to delivering at least $300bn per year for adaptation by 2030. At least half of all climate finance should flow towards adaptation.
UNICEF also urges parties to find solutions to support those who will face climate losses and damages beyond the limits of what communities can adapt to. UNICEF is calling on governments to close the finance gap for addressing these irreversible changes for children.