Ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, UK beginning on Sunday (Oct 31), Bangladeshi children called on national leaders to address climate change as a child rights issue.
The children also asked decision makers to commit to involving children more in finding solutions to the climate crisis, highlighting the need for urgent action.
The children’s message to the Government’s official COP26 delegation was clear: “Bring our appeal with you when you travel to Glasgow. Climate change is a child rights issue.”
The declaration was prepared in November 2020 at the first-ever Children’s Climate Summit by engaging over one million Bangladeshi children involved with the UNICEF-supported Generation Parliament initiative by Bangladesh Debate Federation (BDF).
The Bangladeshi Children’s Climate Declaration calls on the Government to: protect children against the impacts of climate change; reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; increase investments in education, training and a green economy; and consult children on policies and decisions that impact their future.
“Climate change is threatening our survival, well-being and future. We are asking you to stand up for the children of this country and do more to fight climate change,” said 13-year-old Kaba Kaushin Arisha, who handed over the declaration on behalf of the children who participated in the 2020 Summit. “Unless we act now and we act together, we will reach a point of no return. This is our call to you, and to COP26.”
“I thank the over one million children who united behind this Declaration, and UNICEF for bringing us – children and decision makers – together. It is only by listening to our children that we can shape a better future for all,” said Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, who was the Chief Guest of the handover event.
Although Bangladesh is among the lowest per-capita greenhouse gas emitting countries in the world, it is one of the countries that is most affected by climate change.
UNICEF estimates that one in three children in Bangladesh, nearly 20 million children, bear the brunt of climate change every day. Children are victims of extreme weather, floods, river erosion, sea level rise, and other environmental shocks driven by climate change.
“Children in Bangladesh are not responsible for the climate crisis, yet they face its most severe impacts, paying the highest price,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh. “UNICEF stands with children in Bangladesh in their appeal for intergenerational solidarity. The needs of children must be at the centre of the climate change response.”
The event was also attended by members of the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights and members of Bangladesh’s delegation to COP26.