Climate change making the lives of children maverick and uncertain: Climate Justice Assembly

Parvez Babul

According to the statement of Unicef on November 27, 2023, One in three children is at risk and seriously exposed to climate hazards in Bangladesh. Among them, five million children are under five. 12 million children live near the areas prone to floods, and another 4.5 million reside in coastal areas in Bangladesh, they face cyclones, disasters frequently. So the urgency of climate action is particularly acute for Bangladeshi children.  

The children of Bangladesh urged national and global leaders to renew their commitment to climate action and ensure a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future for them. They raised their demands at a Unicef-supported collaborative consultation with 35 children representing all eight divisions in Bangladesh. The children also talked on increasing investments in climate education, climate-displacement, water, health and sanitation services for them, Unicef added.

The children placed their demands ahead of Conference of the Parties (COP) 28, the annual climate event of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that is being held in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023. Unicef Bangladesh organized the consultation recently.

Unicef presented a revised version of the Children’s Climate Declaration to the Speaker’s Office of Bangladesh National Parliament. Naier Haque, from Chittagong Division, said, “There’s an urgent need to increase investments to address impacts of climate change on our lives.”

The children called upon concerned authorities to ensure Bangladesh’s COP28 delegation to take decisive actions towards a clean, healthy, and sustainable future for each and every child so that no child is left behind.  

Deputy Speaker of the National Parliament Shamsul Haque Tuku said, “Children are our most valuable stakeholders in the climate crisis. We must not only articulate our commitment to child-centred climate policies, but actively implement them.”

Unicef Representative in Bangladesh, Sheldon Yett reaffirmed Unicef’s commitment to amplifying voices of children and youth in climate action. Sheldon said, “It is imperative that we recognize the dual challenges the children face in Bangladesh, the climate crisis and violation of their rights to live and flourish in a safe and healthy environment.”  

Another event : Climate Justice Assembly, held in Dhaka on November 17 to 18, 2023. It shared the statement through The PEOPLE’S  DECLARATION FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE : Bangladesh has long been under the world’s spotlight for its increased intensity and extremity of disasters, and the consistent rise in maximum temperatures on a more frequent basis. It can’t also be denied that in the recent years, the country has already been undergoing a critical state of Climate Emergency”with the unprecedented loss of peoples’ lives and livelihoods, destruction of deltaic ecosystems, severe air pollution, water pollution and the massive displacements of communities surrounding the areas where power plants, mostly coal and gas projects, are aggressively expanded and developed. Water Keepers Bangladesh, Asian Energy Network, Oil change and other organizations jointly organized the climate justice assembly event.

It was under the theme: “Advancing Peoples’ Action towards Just and Equitable Transition in Bangladesh.” Around seven hundred national and international participants joined the assembly. And the climate experts urged the responsible countries for climate change, carbon and greenhouse gas emission to compensate Bangladesh and other worst affected climate vulnerable countries.

Nayoka Martinez, Deputy Head of Development Cooperation Section and First Secretary, Environment and Climate Change of Embassy of Sweden in Bangladesh said, “Climate change is a cross-cutting and pressing issue in our time. It affects the women and children severely. Unbearable sufferings of the children with disabilities are indescribable.  So the children who are victimized and vulnerable move unsettled destinations and live inhumane lives detached and away from their families. Due to human-induced climate change and climate-displacement and migration the number of child marriage, child labor, school dropout, street children are on the alarmingly rise.”

Lives and livelihoods, climate-displaced women and children, water salinity, floods, river erosion, cyclones among other issues were discussed at the assembly. The speakers and discussants, coastal and indigenous communities pointed out that during disasters, environmental degradation, river erosion, climate-migration–the women and children suffer the most. In many ways, climate change making the lives of children maverick and uncertain, the experts greatly mentioned at the Climate Justice Assembly 2023.

Dr. Arjun K. Karki, Executive Director of Rural Reconstruction Nepal said,“ Regional cooperation is very important, because climate change is a transboundary and global issue. Communication and coordination between the Government, affected communities and civil society on climate displacement issues should be increased. Engagement and support from the regional and international communities for climate displacement in Bangladesh should be enhanced. All the demands must be properly placed at the COP 28 of UNFCCC in Dubai together with all the stakeholders.”

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