The initiative aims to increase the basic knowledge, skills and critical behaviours of children, families and communities for climate resilience and promote beautification of cities, schools and neighbours as action towards greening.
The first phase of the initiative is set to start in 2023 to create awareness and engage the children, youth and communities in piloting different approaches before being scaled up by the government systems from 2024 onwards.
Ahead of the 27th conference of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC, (COP 27) which will be held from 6 to 18 November 2022 in Egypt, the Ministry of Environment, Tourism, Climate and Hospitality Industry and UNICEF convened a round table dialogue on climate, energy, environment and children where they discussed actions required to incorporate child rights into climate change strategies and plans, modalities to empower children as agents of change and involve them in decision making processes.
In a statement, UNICEF said climate change threatens children’s right to survival and affects children’s ability to thrive.
“Children will not be able to realize their full potential with increased exposure to pollution and flooding, resulting in increased respiratory and diarrheal disease and/or higher rates of malnutrition. Increasingly, extreme climatic events result in the disruption of essential services such as schooling, health services, and civil registration,” said UNICEF.
They said during the dialogue participants highlighted the need to prioritize children’s rights in the efforts to adapt to climate change and to protect the environment.
“Children must be educated on how to adapt to the immediate and future challenges arising from climate change and empowered to play a key role in ensuring environmental sustainability and resilience.”
UNICEF added that children must be supported to voice their needs in relation to climate change and further decision makers need to listen to children who will inherit the planet we share.
Speaking during the meeting, UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Tjudeen Oyewale commended the government for launching the initiative and emphasised their commitment “to support the Government and work with partners towards climate action for children and young people.”
In addition, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said the need to protect children from impacts of climate change and pollution cannot be overemphasised.
“We also need to bring to the fore specific financing for children to enable long-term resilience building, enhance capacities for adaptation and reduce emissions and pollution. A national initiative of Clean Green Zimbabwe, being launched today, to build climate resilience among the children and communities will be key towards such efforts.” said Ndlovu.