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Children’s voices important in climate change discussions


Two days after the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to environmental experts, UNICEF has released a publication that outlines the concerns of children and youth about climate change.

The publication, titled Climate Change and Children, discusses the effects of climate change on children’s health and development and is timed to coincide with world leaders’ discussions at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali.

“When young people are asked to list their concerns about the world they live in, one issue that features high on their agenda is climate change,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “While we still have a lot to learn about the consequences of climate change, economic and social development cannot be sustainable unless we deal decisively with this issue.”

At the same time as the Bali conference is taking place, a UN General Assembly Commemorative high-level plenary meeting devoted to children and young people is being held at United Nations Headquarters in New York. This meeting, known as the World Fit for Children plus 5 (WFFC+5), will follow-up on the outcome of the 2002 Special General Assembly Session on Children.

Climate Change and Children will be launched at a special side event to WFFC+5 hosted by the Government of Greece that will also link children and climate change -- the two issues the intergovernmental meetings are addressing.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly one quarter of all deaths are attributable to environmental factors, rising to more than one-third of deaths among children under the age of 14.

Another recent UNICEF publication -- a compendium of statistics about progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals called Progress for Children that was launched on Monday 10 December -- provides comprehensive data on improvements in rates of child mortality that have occurred since 1990.

However the three biggest killers of children under five – respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases and malaria – are closely linked to environmental factors. And WHO predicts that deaths from asthma, a common chronic disease among children, could increase by nearly 20 per cent by 2016 unless urgent action is taken to reduce emissions from vehicles and factories.

UNICEF is working with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), among others, to develop a strategy to promote safe and healthy environments for children. This strategy will focus on measures to prevent and reduce environmental risks to child survival, protection and education, while enhancing capacities to respond to the needs of children in the event of humanitarian crises linked to climate change.

While many of the earths’ resources are threatened by climate change, one important renewable resource – the power of young people to effect change – is available in abundance. Along with its partners, UNICEF is also developing an Environmental Education Resource Pack to support government efforts to empower children to protect and restore local environments.

Attention broadcasters: B-roll /video can be found at

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Angela Hawke, UNICEF NY, + 212 326 7269,


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