Climate, in 2020 around 10 million children are displaced by meteorological shocks

One billion children live in 33 countries at high risk of impacts caused by climate change. Unicef, Georgetown University and the United Nations University launched new guidelines to protect them

In 2020 alone, around 10 million children were displaced by meteorological shocks. About 1 billion children, almost half of the world’s 2.2 billion, live in 33 countries at high risk of the impacts of climate change, and millions more may migrate in the coming years. To protect, include and promote the empowerment of migrant children in the context of climate change, Unicef, Georgetown University and the United Nations University have launched new guidelines to provide the first ever global policy framework.

The guidelines are called Guiding Principles for Children on Move in the Context of Climate Change and provide 9 principles that address the unique and complex vulnerabilities of children who move both within countries and across borders due to the negative effects of climate change. Currently, most child-related migration policies do not take climate and environmental factors into account, while most climate change policies neglect the specific needs of children.

The guidelines show that climate change intersects with pre-existing environmental, social, political, economic and demographic conditions that contribute to people’s decision to move. Developed in collaboration with young climate and migration activists, academics, experts, policy makers, practitioners and UN agencies, the Guiding Principles are based on the globally ratified Convention on the Rights of the Child, and they also build on existing guidelines and operational frameworks. These guiding principles provide national and local governments, international organizations and civil society groups with a basis for building policies that protect children’s rights. Organizations and institutions ask governments, local and regional actors, international organizations and civil society groups to incorporate the Guiding Principles to help protect, include and promote the empowerment of children migrating in climate change.

“Every day rising sea levels, hurricanes, fires and crop losses are pushing more and more children and families away from their homes,” he said. Catherine Russell, Director-General of UNICEF. “Displaced children are exposed to a greater risk of abuse, human trafficking and exploitation. They are more likely to lose access to education and medical care. They are more often forced into early marriages and child labour. By working together, through coordinated action guided by these principles, governments, civil society and international organizations can better protect the rights and welfare of migrant children”.

“The climate crisis has and will continue to have profound impacts on human mobility. These impacts will be more severe for certain segments of our society, such as children. We cannot put future generations at risk,” he said António Vitorino, IOM Director General. “Migrant children are particularly vulnerable when they move in the context of climate change, but their needs and aspirations are still neglected in political debates. With these guiding principles, we intend to ensure the visibility of their needs and rights, both in political debates and in planning. Managing migration and dealing with the movement of children in the context of climate change, environmental degradation and disasters is a huge challenge that we must face now.

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