THE United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has called on policymakers to include children’s concerns when crafting policies aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change.
Unicef’s climate and environment programme specialist representative Egline Tawuya made the call at a climate change conference held in Bulawayo last week.
“It is important to note that in all this, young people are the most affected, yet they contribute the least to the situation,” Tawuya said.
“As they are still growing, they are at the greatest risk of injury, disability and death caused by the impacts of climate change. Children and young people must be at the forefront of climate- related policies, strategies and plans.”
She said greater climate financing should be directed towards services that directly impact on children, ensuring their well-being and resilience.
Environment ministry Climate Change Management Department deputy director, Kudzai Ndidzano, said government was making progress in ensuring inclusion of children in climate change policies and activities.
“Climate change is now introduced at Grade 3 level all the way up to tertiary level, which is a way of preparing them and grooming them while they are still young. This does not exclude those that are not at schools, we have programmes that reach out to them in all areas,” Ndidzano said.
In another development, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has affirmed children’s right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
This is contained in a joint statement issued by the Unicef and the Public and Social Welfare ministry following a UN Convention on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 26 calling on member States to preserve the environment for the betterment of the lives of children.
General Comment No. 26 specifies that States are responsible not only for protecting children’s rights from immediate harm, but also for future violations of their rights due to States’ actions or inaction today.