Integrate children rights in climate change responses

Decades of concerns about climate change have culminated in international agreements and conventions. Goal 13 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. The Paris Agreement that succeeded the Kyoto Protocol aims at limiting global temperature rise to well below 2C with an ambitious target of 1.5C.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child requires governments to protect children from the most harmful consequences of environmental pollution. On its part, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children postulates that the education of the child shall be directed to the development of respect for the environment and natural resources.

Children constitute about one-third of the global population, hence forming the most populous group on the continent. Sadly, almost every child on earth is exposed to a major climate and environmental hazard. UNICEF says in 2020 alone, nearly 10 million children were displaced in the aftermath of weather-related shocks.

It further states that over 99 per cent of deaths that are attributable to climate-related change occur in developing countries, and children make up over 80 per cent of those deaths. Similarly, whereas developed nations are most culpable for actions leading to climate change, the developing lower-income countries are experiencing the greatest impact.

The world must unite and act to combat climate change and its impact on children and humanity at large. Egypt's COP27 presidency vision is to move from negotiations and planning to implementation. This will require countries to adhere to their individual commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Mr Ongwae is Senior Advocacy Manager, Africa, ChildFund International.