Malawi yesterday signed a Child, Youth and Climate Action protocol with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) to facilitate inclusion of children and youth in climate change programmes.
The signing ceremony took place at the Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe during the opening of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Green Climate Conference.
Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change Eisenhower Mkaka said Malawi decided to commit to Unicef’s declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action to set the pace for all Sadc countries.
He said: “It is a fact that climate change affects children and the youth more than adults but they are sidelined when it comes to climate change mitigating programmes and we urge other countries to do the same.”
Mkaka said the conference offers dellegates an opportunity to share experiences, challenges and discuss ways the region can collectively deal with climate change.
He said part of the discussion will focus on climate change financing with an inclusion of the children and youth aspect.
A Unicef report on climate change shared at the conference says children experience multiple climate shocks combined with poor essential services such as water, sanitation and healthcare.
“As climate change disrupts the environment, children are being forced to grow up in an increasingly dangerous world. This is a crisis that threatens their health, nutrition, education, development, survival and future,” reads the report in part.
Speaking at the conference, a youth representative Esther Maganizo, who survived the recent Tropical Storm Ana floods, said policymakers should focus more on children needs as climate change affects them more.
“We the youth do not contribute much to the climate change but when the effects hit, we are the ones who suffer the most. We have ideas, energy and numbers so excluding us in climate change programmes is a big loss,” said the learner at Mpasa Secondary School in Nsanje District.
United Nations Development Programme resident representative Shigeki Komatsubara said Africa contributes only four percent of greenhouse emissions, yet it has suffered substantial loss from effects of human induced climate change.
He said: “The Sadc region faces the exponential collateral damage posing systemic risks to its economy, infrastructure investment, water and food systems, public health, agriculture and livelihoods threatening to undo its modest development gains and slip into higher levels of extreme poverty.”
Komatsubara said the $20 billion global climate change financing fund is way below the pledged $100 billion, but even if the whole pledge was reached, it would not meet the needs of developing countries.
He, therefore, urged delegates to take advantage of the conference and lobby for more climate change financing to developing countries.
Komatsubara urged the Sadc delegates should take the conference as a preparatory platform for the Conference Of Parties (CoP)27 to take place in Egypt in November 2022.
The conference, being attended by 16 member states, the Sadc secretariat and invited observers from international organisations.