By Noimot Olayiwola/Staff Reporter
There should be adequate representation of women at all levels of climate change discussions in order to guarantee the protection of children’s interests in the decisions, the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP18/CMP8) in Doha was urged yesterday.
Speaking at the opening of the panel discussion on “Child-Centred Approach to Climate Change: Opportunities and Challenges,” Mary Robinson Foundation’s president Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland, described children as agents of change in climate change issues and pointed out that many were already being affected.
“We are seeing a huge injustice in climate change impacts as the poorest are already being affected, especially with the melting of glaciers. In many African countries, the means of livelihood of the farmers are affected in such situations,” she noted.
While acknowledging that climate change issues are complicated and complex and that reaching decisions could be really slow, she stressed that agenda could be a lot faster and smarter if certain measures were considered.
“Children remind us of employing inter-generational approach to climate change issues because it’s their world and they are growing into adulthood. So we need to encourage delegates to ensure adequate representation of women in major conferences and be sure to have more climate and gender sensitive policies…that’s critical for ensuring children’s inclusion too because women protect the children,” she maintained.
Robinson stated that the most ratified human rights convention in the world should be the one giving voices to children.
“Children have rights and responsibilities…so we have to ensure the enforcement of some principles of climate justice, which include transforming the power of education because the decision-makers of tomorrow – children- will need a different approach to planning climate change,” she suggested.
Another panellist from the Indonesia’s National Council on Climate Change, Dr Amanda Katilli, gave an overview of Indonesian government’s approach to climate change and shared with the audience the climate change vulnerability index showing some 30% of the country as children.
She also spoke about how climate change is impacting children in Indonesia, while highlighting some of the challenges facing the government in implementing some of its climate change initiatives focusing children.
Some of the initiatives she mentioned include a children’s action for disaster risk reduction; building of about 100 child-friendly cities based on children’s rights; introduction of climate change movies and a ‘soul view’ on climate change - a photo book initiative.
Speaking passionately about giving voices to the youth, the 18-year-old UK Youth Climate Coalition’s Cressida Marcodesley-Thomas stressed the need to realise that women and children are the most vulnerable to climate change.
“There is the need to join the dots together and for us to see that women are being denied their rights because of climate change and we are here to make a difference and I do have a sense of hope because we young people have the dynamics and the zeal for life,” she stated.
Philippines Climate Change Commission’s Nadervo Sano described how children are being involved at various levels in the country to move forward the agenda of climate change and how the State’s policies are recognising the vulnerability of children to dangers and consequences of climate change.