New report on children’s rights in climate policies

Date: 25th June 2020
Category: Basic Health and Welfare, General principles

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Children will feel the largest impact of climate change and yet, despite their vulnerability, children are often overlooked in the design and content of climate policies and related processes. This report aimed to assess and contribute to addressing the gap between current practice and a ‘child-sensitive’ approach to climate policymaking.

Currently, the landscape of national climate policies and plans, and the degree to which they are child-sensitive are as follows:

  • Only 42% of all Nationally Determined Contributions which are climate pledges made by countries contain direct reference to children or youth while only 20% mention children specifically. Less than two percent mention the rights of children.
  • UNICEF analysed 13 National Adaptation Plans, which are the documents created from comprehensive medium- and long-term climate adaptation planning, that builds on each country’s existing adaptation activities and helps integrate climate change into national decision-making. From these 13 Plans analysed, only 11 explicitly referred to children or young people, viewing them as both a vulnerable group and as beneficiaries in terms of education and health interventions.

The key elements needed for child-sensitive climate policymaking are:

  • Ambitious and urgent- Ambitious mitigation and adaptation measures that protect the rights and best interests of the child from harm caused by climate change.
  • Rights-based- Explicit and meaningful references to children and youth, considering them as rights-holders and important stakeholders.
  • Holistic and multi-sectoral- Address children’s specific risks and vulnerabilities through specific sector interventions.
  • Inclusive- Informed by, and provide for, the systematic consultation and meaningful participation of all children, including children of different ages, gender, and social backgrounds, at every step of the climate policy-making process and at all levels.

Applying the principles to policy is not enough. Supporting the principles and child-sensitive climate policymaking also requires the following:

  • Political will and high-level leadership, child-sensitive budgeting and knowledge, awareness-raising, and capacity building of climate policymakers- these will build an enabling environment for climate action.
  • Child rights impact assessments, collection and assessment of disaggregated data, integrating child-sensitive targets and performance indicators and child-sensitive monitoring, evaluation and accountability mechanisms- these will measure and capture the impact of child-sensitive policies and create clear targets for these policies.

Examples of good practice regarding child-sensitive national climate policies can be found in Kiribati's Nationally Determined Contribution, Zimbabwe’s National Climate Change Response Strategy and Republic of Fiji’s National Adaptation Plan.

  • Read more about creating child-focused climate policies here.