Reader’s Opinion | Children have been forgotten in international climate policy

Finland should put children on the agenda at the Dubai Climate Summit.

Today the UN climate meeting in Dubai that has started is a great place to put children on the climate policy agenda.

The climate crisis is already a child rights crisis right now. According to Unicef ​​studies published this year, more than 700 million children live in areas suffering from severe water shortages and more than 40 million children have had to leave their homes due to extreme weather between 2016 and 2021.

Children are a particularly vulnerable group of people to the effects of climate change. The climate crisis has serious physical and psychological consequences for children, which extend well into adulthood. A child’s body is less resistant than an adult’s to e.g. extreme heat and dehydration. When families’ livelihoods are threatened, girls in particular have to stop schooling to help their parents with housework or to get married. Dropping out of school endangers the future of both the child himself and society as a whole.

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Hundreds of millions of children suffer from the effects of climate change even now, when the climate has warmed by an average of 1.1 degrees. With the states’ current commitments, the climate threatens to heat up significantly more. It is clear that the effects of the climate crisis will worsen already in the near future.

Children must be protected from the effects of climate disasters. It requires that the international community invests in adapting to climate change alongside curbing it.

The climate crisis is already a child rights crisis.

So far, children have been almost completely forgotten in international climate policy and investments. According to a study by Plan International, Pelastakaa fätt ry and Unicef, only 2.4 percent of international climate funding goes to projects that support children.

So what can be done? For the children, it is vital to invest in basic services functioning even when climate change worsens. By investing in health services, water supply, education and social security where the climate crisis hits the hardest and where services are already at their weakest, we save children’s lives and secure their opportunities to grow and develop. In addition, among other things, warning systems and other ways to prepare for disasters must be developed in ways that take children and their special needs into account.

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Everyone the child has the right to a good childhood and future. Finland must put children on the agenda in its own climate foreign policy and at the Dubai climate meeting. In Dubai, children must be taken into account, among other things, in the definitions of the new damage and loss fund and the global adaptation goal.

Niina Ratilainen

expert, Plan International Finland

Juho Pylvänäinen

special expert, Save the Children

Minna Suihkonen

special expert, UNICEF Finland

The reader’s opinions are speeches written by HS readers, which are selected and delivered by the HS editors. You can leave an opinion piece or familiarize yourself with the principles of writing at the address

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