Plan International USA’s statement on climate change

April 20, 2021

Plan International USA believes children and young people in all their diversity should enjoy full and equal access to their rights, which should not be hindered by the threat of climate change.

Climate change is the greatest global, intergenerational, gender and social injustice of our time. It more severely impacts the rights of the most marginalized and magnifies gender inequalities, especially for girls. As an organization focused on gender equality, we must prioritize and uphold girls’ rights and strengthen their meaningful participation in climate policy, decisions and action.

In line with scientific consensus, Plan recognizes that the alarming rate of climate change we are experiencing is due to human activity. Climate change is undermining the sustainable development agenda and threatening previous gains in human development and poverty eradication. It is also clear that climate change is amplifying risks that may contribute to or worsen loss and damage, poverty, natural resource depletion, environmental degradation, migration, urbanization, conflict and health problems.

Climate impacts are putting girls, especially during adolescence, at risk of human rights abuses including human trafficking, sexual violence in temporary shelters and disruptions in their access to important health services like family planning or maternal and postnatal care.[1] Adolescent girls, particularly in low-income countries, are also at risk of being pulled out of school to help alleviate the extra domestic burdens that are shouldered by women in households facing climate-related shocks and stress.[2]

Out-of-school girls need targeted support as they are less likely to be informed about climate change, which further increases their vulnerability. Girls may also be forced to marry early as families attempt to manage the financial burdens and/or female safety concerns created by environmental hardships and the aftermath of climate-related disasters.[3] This often means the early onset of key life transitions, such as early pregnancy, directing girls into a vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty, vulnerability and marginalization.

Plan recognizes the scale of the problem. The imminent threat of a global human rights and climate crisis cannot be overstated. Climate change is impacting the economic, political, social and cultural fabric of every country, and the human rights of current and future generations. Solutions require both mitigation of the causes of climate change and adaptation to its impacts. Without urgent, far-reaching and unprecedented action across all of society, irreversible impacts will continue to threaten the lives and rights of ever more vulnerable populations. Plan and international non-governmental organizations must take responsibility and adequately address climate change in all projects and community work, as well as make the required changes in behavior, to play our part in limiting the further impacts of climate change.

We have a responsibility to use our voice, power and moral authority to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate the harm to communities with which we work, increase their resilience and adaptive capacity, and influence others to do the same. We also have a distinct obligation to pass on a healthier planet to the children who will inherit it. The future success and reputation of the international development and humanitarian community depends on our collective ability to do so. As such, Plan commits to:

Education and Advocacy

  • Improve understanding among our constituents, donors, vendors, corporate partners and staff of the challenges of climate change, environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity, and how they connect to development and humanitarian issues.
  • Strategically work to make adaptation to and mitigation of climate change public policy priorities within our organization’s relevant areas of influence locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Ensure that the voices of affected communities and the local institutions that serve them are represented in policy decisions. In particular, encourage girls’ leadership and include them in the development, implementation and monitoring of Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans.


  • Strengthen our technical expertise in the existing approaches, tools and processes to run climate-aware, environmentally sustainable programs.
  • Begin mainstreaming climate and environmental considerations into our programming to reduce our emissions and any environmental degradation resulting from our work; in the process, maximize the resilience and adaptation of affected communities.
  • Ensure that the voices from those communities, especially women, adolescent girls, youth and other marginalized groups, are informing and benefitting from that process.

Internal Operations

  • Assess the major categories and sources of greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and waste at our offices and conduct a baseline study of those aspects using the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol or other widely recognized industry standards.
  • Based on that assessment, propose actions that we will take to reduce emissions and waste, and begin implementing them.
  • Start engaging our Board of Directors, staff and partners in an exploration of Plan’s relationships to the fossil fuel industry and other industries that generate large-scale negative impacts (e.g., deforestation, pollution) on the environment.