UNICEF underscores toll climate change takes on children

12 December 2007 –

Children are among those who are most devastated by climate change, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced today.

“They pay with their health, their development and – too often – also with their lives,” Hilde Johnson, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, told reporters in New York.

Every year, three million children under the age of five die from environment-linked diseases, such as diarrhoeal disease, respiratory infections and malaria, and the agency predicts that these numbers will rise with climate change, she said.

Curbing climate change and UNICEF’s top priority – to protect and support the health, development and education of children – are closely interlinked. “Action to protect the environment will protect the basic rights of children,” Ms. Johnson noted.

Ms. Johnson voiced hope that the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, will produce a successful outcome.

Acknowledging that UNICEF does not have an environmental mandate, she said the agency nevertheless hopes that emissions reductions become a reality due to the detrimental impact of global warming on children.

The agency today also launched a new publication spotlighting the concerns of children and youth about climate change.

Entitled “Climate Change and Children,” it also outlines the dangers global warming poses to children in the form of food insecurity, deforestation, lack of energy infrastructure, increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, disease and water scarcity.

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