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Impact of Heatwaves on Children: UNICEF

  • 28 Oct 2022
  • 6 min read

For Prelims: UNICEF, COP-27, Heatwaves, Climate Change, UNFCCC.

For Mains: Impact of Heatwaves on Children.

Why in News?

Recently, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) released a report titled “Coldest Year of the Rest of Their Lives - Protecting children from the escalating impacts of heatwaves, showing that nearly all the children across the world will be exposed to more frequent and severe heat waves by 2050.

  • UNICEF is a special program of the United Nations (UN) devoted to aiding national efforts to improve the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children.

What are the Findings of the UNICEF Report?

  • Current Scenario:
    • Around 559 million children are exposed to high heatwave frequency and around 624 million children are exposed to one of three other high heat measures - High heatwave duration, High heatwave severity and Extreme high temperatures.
    • One in four children lives in areas where the average heatwave event lasts 4.7 days or longer as of 2020.
      • This percentage will rise to over three in four children under a low-emission scenario by 2050.
    • Children in southern, western and south-eastern Asia, eastern and southern Europe and northern Africa experience heatwaves of longer duration.
  • Future Impact:
    • The number of children exposed to high heat waves will quadruple to over two billion by 2050 — up from 24% of children in 2020.
      • This amounts to an increase of about 1.5 billion children.
    • Virtually every child on earth will face severe heat waves even under a low greenhouse gas emission scenario — with an estimated 1.7°C of warming in 2050.
    • At 2.4 degrees of warming, 94% of children will be exposed with only small areas of southern America, central Africa, Australasia and Asia not exposed to high heatwave duration.
  • Higher Vulnerability of Children:
    • Heat Waves with longer duration pose more risks for children as they spend more time outdoors than adults for — sports and other activities — putting them at greater risk for heat injury.
  • Impact on Health:
  • Threatens Children's Safety:
    • Communities are forced to search for and compete over food and water resources as pastures and household income dry up. The resulting migration, displacement and conflict expose children to serious physical harm and violence risks.


What are the Recommendations?

  • There is a need to ensure that the vulnerable have the resources to adopt the critical social services required to protect them.
  • It is high time Countries must act now by:
    • Protecting children from climate devastation by encouraging social services
    • Preparing children to live in a climate-changed world
    • Prioritising children and youth in climate finance and resources
    • Preventing a climate catastrophe by reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • The 27th Conference of Parties (COP-27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change must unlock progress on loss and damage, placing the resilience of children and their communities at the centre of discussions on action and support.

What are the Other Related Indices?

  • Children’s Climate Risk Index: UNICEF:
    • It ranks countries based on children’s exposure to climate and environmental shocks, such as Cyclones and Heatwaves, as well as their vulnerability to those shocks, based on their access to essential services.
  • Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) Index:
    • It has shown the impact of climate change on children across the world.
    • It explains that the 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.

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question

Q. With reference to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, consider the following: (2010)

  1. The Right to Development
  2. The Right to Expression
  3. The Right to Recreation

Which of the above is/are the Rights of the child?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (d)

Source: DTE

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