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COP15: Agents of change, not just victims

A girl reviews an historic calendar of disasters that have affected their community to local residents during disaster planning workshop run by Plan El Salvador.
A girl reviews an historic calendar of disasters that have affected their community to local residents during disaster planning workshop run by Plan El Salvador.

Plan is helping children and young people, those most impacted by climate change, to have their voices heard and be involved in climate change discussions, such as at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15).

With two in five of the world’s population under the age of 18, climate change is set to have a disproportionate effect on children, many of whom are already facing its impact: the devastating floods in the Philippines, sea abrasion in Indonesia, and severe droughts in Ethiopia and Kenya.

 

A global problem; a shared responsibility

The geographical injustice of climate change is that the children and families most affected by its devastating effects are those in developing countries — those who are the least responsible for causing the problem, and those with the fewest resources for coping with it. 

Climate change is happening now, with damaging consequences to children’s well-being. Failure to act will render the environments of children, young people and their families even more hazardous.

Not just victims of climate change, children and young people are increasingly becoming agents of change.

They are interested in taking part in decisions affecting their future and are taking action to ensure their safety and that of their communities, offering practical solutions and calling for action from their leaders.

“Climate change is affecting my community directly,” says Beatrice, age 13, from Kenya. “I am looking forward to the day when all the people will understand better use of resources and change the climate for better. We are future leaders and if we understand the effects of climate change now, later in life we can save our countries.”

Helping give children a voice

Plan is helping give children a voice at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen by supporting a group of young journalists to attend and have the opportunity to creatively and widely share their views on climate change via traditional and new media.

Following COP15, Plan will continue work on children’s engagement in climate change decision-making and action through climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction as part of the Children in a Changing Climate coalition, through a new development education project on Climate Change (Plan Kenya, Senegal and Malawi, UK and Netherlands), and through the growing number of disaster risk reduction, climate change and environmental management projects being implemented throughout Plan.