Despite bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, members of the Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative (CERI) coalition report that climate funding commitments fail children; UNICEF, Plan International, and Save the Children
According to the findings of the report, child-friendly activities can only be supported by 2.4% of important global climate funds. Over a billion children are extremely vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis, according to UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index.
“Children are the future, but our future is shaped by the actions of those making decisions in the present, and our voices are not being heard,” said Barbadian UNICEF child advocate Maria Marshall, who is 13 years old. Funding climate solutions is a responsibility, as this report demonstrates, but how that money is spent is also important. Children’s requirements and perspectives must be taken into account.
The study, which came up short: Using a set of three criteria, addressing the climate finance gap for children determined whether key multilateral climate funds (MCFs) serving the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement provided climate finance: strengthening the resilience of child-critical social services, empowering children as agents of change, and addressing the distinct and heightened risks they face as a result of the climate crisis.
Plan International Bangladesh Country Director Kabita Bose stated, “The findings are stark.” Adapting to climate change requires swift and effective investment, which is especially important for children, particularly girls, who are particularly vulnerable to the short- and long-term effects. However, current spending almost completely ignores children; this must change.
The report found that only $1.2 billion (or 2.4%) of the money provided by MCFs for climate-related projects over a 17-year period ending in March 2023 met all three of the requirements. In addition, the report states that this figure probably reflects an overestimate, implying that even less money might have met all requirements.
“Children, particularly those who are already impacted by inequality and discrimination, have contributed least to climate change, yet they are most affected by it. Kelley Toole, Save the Children’s Global Head of Climate Change, stated, “The opportunity presented by climate finance is to address these injustices by taking into account the needs and perspectives of children.” This is woefully inadequate at this point, but it can and must be improved. We must prioritize child rights and ensure that children’s voices are heard in order to effectively address the climate crisis.
Even though MCFs only make up a small portion of climate finance overall, how much children are taken into consideration by these funds is very important. MCFs play a crucial role in setting the agenda and facilitating and coordinating investments made by other public and private finance institutions, including at the national level, that are required to bring about a larger change.
Water and food scarcity, water-borne diseases, physical and psychological trauma, and extreme weather events have all been linked to both slow-onset climate effects and children’s vulnerability. Children’s access to essential services like education, healthcare, and clean drinking water is also being disrupted by shifting weather patterns, according to evidence.
Every child is exposed to at least one climate risk, and frequently more than one. The financial resources and investments that are absolutely necessary to adapt vital social services like water and health to climate hazards are inadequate and largely ignore the immediate and distinctive requirements of children. This must be altered. Paloma Escudero, Special Adviser for Climate Advocacy at UNICEF, stated, “Climate finance must reflect this. The climate crisis is a child rights crisis.”
The report points out that children are frequently thought of as a vulnerable group rather than as active stakeholders or agents of change. Under 4% of activities, adding up to only 7% of MCF speculation ($2.58 billion), give unequivocal and significant thought to the requirements and association of young ladies.
The voices of children from all over the world, who claimed that climate change increased the risks they face, provide the basis for the report. “In Chiredzi, we learned that some girls cannot swim across flooded rivers to go to school or go home while boys can,” a teenage girl in Zimbabwe stated. To get to school, girls must walk up to 10 to 15 kilometers. Before they even begin classes, they become exhausted along the way. “Lots of large-scale disasters hit our district, which causes people to become impoverished, and children like us are engaged in child labor,” a Bangladeshi teenager added.
The CERI coalition is urging multilateral climate funds and other providers of climate finance to quickly address the adaptation gap and provide climate finance at both the international and national levels. They specifically ask for money to pay for damages and losses brought on by climate change. The vital social services that support children and their well-being should receive priority with this funding. Reaching and assisting children who are most at risk from climate change should be the primary focus.