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Climate Change: Impact on Children

  • 24 Apr 2021
  • 7 min read

Why in News

A recent analysis, based on Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) index, has shown the impact of climate change on children across the world.

Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative

  • ND-GAIN is part of the Climate Change Adaptation Program of the University of Notre Dame's Environmental Change initiative (ND-ECI).
  • ND-GAIN's Country Index shows which countries are best prepared to deal with global changes brought about by overcrowding, resource-constraints and climate disruption.
  • The Country Index uses 20 years of data to rank more than 180 countries annually based on their vulnerability and, uniquely, how ready they are to adapt.
    • Vulnerability is considered in six life-supporting sectors – food, water, health, ecosystem service, human habitat and infrastructure.
    • Overall readiness is measured by considering three components – economic readiness, governance readiness and social readiness.
  • According to the scores for 2018, India ranked 122 and is the 48th most vulnerable country and the 70th least ready country.

Key Points

  • From the Analysis:
    • Countries with Highest Climate Risk:
      • Sub-Saharan Africa has 35 of the 45 countries globally at highest climate risk.
        • Climate risk can be defined as a combination of hazard exposure, sensitivity to impact, and adaptive capacity.
      • Chad, Somalia, Central African Republic, Eritrea and Democratic Republic of the Congo are the least capable of adapting to the impact of climate change.
      • Around 490 million children under the age of 18 in 35 African countries are at the highest risk of suffering the impact of climate change.
    • Situation in South Asian Region:
      • Of the 750 million children in 45 countries likely to be most affected by climate risk, 210 million are in three South Asian nations — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
    • Impact of Climate Change on Children:
      • Floods, droughts, hurricanes and other extreme weather events will have a deep impact on vulnerable children and their families.
        • Malaria and dengue fever already plague children in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
        • Increasing extreme weather events can lead to new health risks while the health system is already limited.
        • Around 9.8 million people were displaced due to the disasters caused by climate change during the first half of 2020.
          • Most of them were in South and South-East Asia and the Horn of Africa, confirmed the World Meteorological Organisation in its flagship State of the Global Climate report.
      • Children will be impacted by food shortages, diseases and other health threats, water scarcity, or be at risk from rising water levels – or a combination of these factors.
      • There is enough evidence that establishes the impact of “climate crisis on food production”. Hence, this will lead to local food scarcity and price hikes.
        • Climate change can disrupt food availability, reduce access to food, and affect food quality.
      • Children of the poorest households will be the most-affected. In fact, there has been scientific evidence of the link between obesity, under-nutrition and climate change.
  • India’s Scenario:
    • Findings from 2020 PwC Report:
      • Disadvantaged and vulnerable populations (including children), indigenous people and local communities dependent on agricultural or coastal livelihoods are at a disproportionately higher risk of adverse consequences due to climate change.
        • Children bear the brunt of climate change as it affects their fundamental rights of survival, protection, development and participation.
      • Other potential effects of climate change on children are orphanhood, trafficking, child labour, loss of education and development opportunities, separation from family, homelessness, begging, trauma, emotional disruption, illnesses, etc.
    • India’s Performance in Other Related Indices:
      • Climate Change Performance Index:
        • India ranked 10th in CCPI 2021, released by Germanwatch, the New Climate Institute and the Climate Action Network.
      • World Risk Index 2020: India has ranked 89th among 181 countries on the WRI 2020 and is fourth-most-at-risk in South Asia, after Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
        • It is released by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft and the University of Stuttgart in Germany.
      • Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region: MoES:
        • It is India’s first-ever national forecast on the impact of global warming on the subcontinent in the coming century, published by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
      • National Climate Vulnerability Assessment Report: Released by the Department of Science and Technology, it identified Jharkhand, Mizoram, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal as states highly vulnerable to climate change.
  • Some of the Indian Initiatives to Fight Climate Change:

Way Forward

  • Scale up adaptive and shock-responsive social protection systems – such as grants for pregnant mothers and children - to address the increasing impacts of climate change on children and their families.
  • More countries need to work towards their commitment in the Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure every child is protected from poverty, for example by providing universal child benefits to improve children’s well-being and build resilience.

Source: DTE

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