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Climate change directly affects children, workshop in Abu Dhabi hears

Climate change directly affects children, workshop in Abu Dhabi hears
13 May 2024 08:56

Lamaa Al Hermoudi (Abu Dhabi) 

Experts have confirmed that the ramifications of climate change directly affect children, and have called on the media to help spread awareness and guidance on the aspects of climate change that may negatively impact a child’s environment.

Dr. Samir Tantawi, a climate change consultant at the United Nations and a member of the International Climate Change Commission, said during a media workshop organised by the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood in Abu Dhabi, that climate change is a serious crisis that threatens children’s rights on many levels.

Climate change comes with many health, educational, and psychological effects for children, including the increased spread of diseases, as children are more vulnerable to diseases spread due to climate change, such as malaria and dengue fever.

According to the World Health Organization, children under the age of five bear 90% of the burden of climate change-related diseases. Exacerbating malnutrition is associated with natural disasters, such as droughts and floods, which cause shortages of food and clean water. This, in turn, increases malnutrition in children, especially in developing countries. Air pollution, another ramification of climate change, affects the spread of respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, significantly impacting children’s health.

In the educational arena, climate change brings school disruptions, as natural disasters destroy schools and educational infrastructure, hindering children’s access to education. Additionally, climate-caused displacement and migration may force many children to flee their homes, affecting their educational stability.

These challenges subsequently produce psychological effects, like stress, anxiety, and depression. Many children may also suffer from symptoms of depression due to despair about the security of their futures amid the worsening affects of climate change.

Dr. Tantawi explained that approximately 559 million children currently face high-frequency heatwaves, according to UNICEF.

He also noted a child’s right to play is one of the most significantly damaged by natural disasters, as they threaten safe play areas for children, affecting their growth and development.

Workshop participants emphasised the importance of raising awareness among children and adolescents about the challenges the world faces due to climate change. They also highlighted the importance of the role of media, educational institutions, and government agencies in disseminating educational and informative content about conserving energy and water resources, avoiding waste, and embracing sustainability, which plays a crucial role in mitigating the impact of global warming.

Saif Al Matroushi, member of the Emirati Children’s Parliament, explained that children have become aware of the changes and developments around them, and are increasingly concerned climate change, as changes in weather patterns have become more noticable.

He stressed that the media, parents, educational institutions, and other government agencies have a pivotal role to educate children on the importance of conserving energy resources, and exploring innovative sustainability and recycling projects. He added that children have the right to live in a clean, natural environment where they can exercise their rights to play, away from the harms of climate change.

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