If we cannot get governments to think differently, many more children will succumb to child labour, forced marriage and trafficking as a result of climate change, says Martina Hibell, Secretary General of ChildFund Alliance member Barnfonden.
“Governments are slowly starting to recognize the need to prepare societies for the consequences of climate change. But does that mean they are also increasing their child protection work linked to this? No, not from what we see. Climate change is seen as one area of work, while child protection is seen as another. It is only when a crisis occurs, such as a massive typhoon or devastating flood, do these two areas of work come together.”
Barnfonden is urging governments to pay attention to even the type of crises that do not make headlines, but which slowly reduce people’s ability to earn a living and live in security. They argue that these “invisible disasters” put more and more children on the streets or in risky situations. The organization sees that climate adaptation plans are made to strengthen communities, but also wants to see plans where this is coordinated with child protection work.
In a new report, Barnfonden states that it is essential to combine climate action (Sustainable Development Goal 13) with stopping violence against children (Sustainable Development Goal 16. 2).
Martina Hibell says that child protection strategies currently avoid the fact that climate change increases the risks of violence against children. Based on countless testimonies and on-the-ground experiences of the consequences of climate change, Barnfonden’s recommendations include:
- Collect more data to clarify the connection between climate change and increased violence against children.
- Work to strengthen livelihoods in a changing climate needs to be coordinated with work that addresses social norms, while developing school-based programs that strengthen knowledge about the environment and climate and children’s rights.
- Strengthen efforts to prevent and respond to disasters to include the risk of increased violence against children and promote preventive measures.
- Listen, collaborate more and support children and young people in the work to deal with the effects of a changing climate.