Ahead of the COP27, Government of Zimbabwe and UNICEF hosted a high-level dialogue to take stock of the climate change challenges and concluded with a strong call for children to be at the heart of climate change strategies and actions.
Ahead of the (27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC) COP27, which will be held from 6 to 18 November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt), the Ministry of Environment, Tourism, Climate & Hospitality Industry and UNICEF today convened a High-Level Roundtable Dialogue on Climate, Energy, Environment and Children at the Cresta Lodge, Msasa in Harare. Participants at the event included Government officials from various concerned Ministries, Development partners, UN agencies, children and young people.
The participants at the Roundtable discussed actions required to incorporate child rights into climate change strategies and plans; commitments made by all stakeholders to create a clean and safe environment for children; modalities to empower children as agents of change and involve them in decision making processes; and climate financing mechanisms targeted to the protection of children from climate change impacts.
“The need to protect children from the impacts of climate change and pollution cannot be overemphasized. We also need to bring to the fore specific financing for children to enable long-term resilience building, enhance capacities for adaptation and reduce emissions and pollution. A national initiative of Clean Green Zimbabwe, being launched today, to build climate resilience among the children and communities will be key towards such efforts.” said Honourable N.M. Ndlovu, Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
Climate change is a national priority for Zimbabwe. In its third National Communication to the UNFCCC, the Government of Zimbabwe recognized climate change as a key threat towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. In addition, the National Development Strategy 1 of the Government of Zimbabwe notes environmental protection, climate resilience and natural resource management among the country’s 14 priorities to achieving a middle-income country by 2030.
The climate change crisis is a child rights crisis, globally and in Zimbabwe. Climate change threatens children’s right to survival and affects children’s ability to thrive. Children will not be able to realize their full potential with increased exposure to pollution and flooding, resulting in increased respiratory and diarrheal disease and/or higher rates of malnutrition. Increasingly, extreme climatic events result in the disruption of essential services such as schooling, health services, and civil registration.
During the dialogue participants highlighted the need to prioritize children’s rights in the efforts to adapt to climate change and to protect the environment. Children must be educated on how to adapt to the immediate and future challenges arising from climate change and empowered to play a key role in ensuring environmental sustainability and resilience. Children must be supported to voice their needs in relation to climate change. Further decision makers need to listen to children who will inherit the planet we share.
Following the impact of Cyclone Idai in 2019 and the recent droughts, it is evident that Zimbabwe is prone to climate-induced shocks with increasing intensity and frequency. Participants at the High-Level Dialogue therefore agreed on the sense of urgency to address the climate change challenges in Zimbabwe and for all stakeholders to work together under the leadership of the Government with and for children in implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. In this regard, the Government of Zimbabwe developed the Clean Green Zimbabwe initiative with the support of UNICEF
While the child-sensitive nature of Zimbabwe’s National Climate Change Response Strategy is laudable, there is no time to waste in advancing key actions – in collaboration with all partners. I commend the Government of Zimbabwe for putting in place the Clean Green Zimbabwe Initiative aimed at strengthening community capacity to be climate resilience by investing in children and young people and mobilizing actions in communities and in schools. I am also pleased to release the UNICEF Zimbabwe Climate, Energy, Environment and Children Strategy as our commitment to support the Government and work with partners towards climate action for children and young people. “said Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe.
Following the disastrous Cyclone Idai in 2019 and protracted recent droughts, Zimbabwe expects to experience such climate-induced shocks with increasing intensity and frequency. Participants at the High-Level Dialogue therefore agreed on the sense of urgency to address the climate change challenges in Zimbabwe and for all stakeholders to work together under the leadership of the Government to work for and with children in implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. In this regard, the Government of Zimbabwe developed the Clean Green Zimbabwe initiative with the support of UNICEF.
Clean Green Zimbabwe aims to increase the i) capacity of local institutions and communities to respond to local needs induced by climate change; ii) basic knowledge, skills and critical behaviors of children, families and communities for climate resilience and; iii) promote beautification of cities, schools, and neighborhoods as action toward greening. The initiative is in line with the Government priorities of city beautification and rural reforestation. The first phase of initiative will start from 2023 to create awareness and engage the children, youth and communities and piloting different approaches before being scaled up by the government systems from 2024 onwards.