More children must migrate because of climate change: Here are 9 principles the UN offers to protect them – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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Author: Stephen Hall, Writer, Training Content


  • Millions of children have already been forced to migrate due to climate change.
  • Half of the world’s young people now live in regions at high risk of the effects of global warming, according to the United Nations.
  • The UN has published a set of 9 principles to help protect children displaced in this way.

In May 2002, Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, chaired the first special session of the General Assembly on children, insisting that the United Nations discuss “the future we are preparing with them, not for them “.

Two decades later, many children face an uncertain future as climate change uproots people around the world.

Nearly 10 million children were displaced by weather-related events in 2020, and half of the world’s young people now live in high-risk areas due to the impacts of climate change, according to the UN.

Protect children displaced by climate change

This prompted UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Georgetown University and the United Nations University to publish a set of nine core principles to protect children when crossing international borders in due to climate change.

“Migrant children are particularly vulnerable when moving in the context of climate change, yet their needs and aspirations are still ignored in policy debates,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino. “With these guiding principles, we aim to make their needs and rights visible.”

The 9 principles of the UN

The principles set out by the UN are as follows:

1: A rights-based approach

2: Best interests of the child

3: Liability

4: Awareness and participation in decision-making

5: Family unit

6: Protection, safety and security

7: Access to education, health care and social services

8: Non-discrimination

9: Nationality

The first guideline focuses on the rights enshrined by the UN in the Child Rights Bill. This was launched in 1989 as a “legally binding international agreement setting out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child, regardless of race, religion or ability”.

This has led many institutions and governments around the world to change their way of thinking about young people, considering children as individuals in their own right.

The UN argues that governments should be held publicly accountable for the decisions they make regarding child migration and climate change.

It also urges authorities to make decisions with the best interests of the child in mind. This principle was put into practice in 2014 when a family of four from Tuvalu were granted asylum in New Zealand, as both children were born in the country and had family networks and schooling there.

Involve children in the decision-making process

Speeches by climate activists such as Greta Thunberg have demonstrated the knowledge many young people have about global warming, and the UN says children “have the right to be informed, consulted and to participate in decision-making. decisions in the context of climate change”.

Governments are also required to maintain family unity, ensuring that migrant children are cared for by their parents or guardians, and not separated.

The right to protection is another fundamental principle. This is important as young people are particularly vulnerable “to abuse, trafficking and often forced into early marriage and child labour”, according to UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.

Discover

What is the World Economic Forum doing on climate change?

Climate change is an urgent threat requiring decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing heightened climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats high on the list.

To limit the global temperature increase to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policymakers and civil society advance short-term and long-term global climate actions in accordance with the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum Climate Initiative supports scaling and accelerating global climate action through public and private sector collaboration. The Initiative is working on several work streams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions for the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policymakers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of a more secure climate.

Contact us to get involved.

In the interests of protection and well-being, the UN advocates for access to education, health care and social services in host countries. Its guiding principles also emphasize the importance of non-discrimination and the obligation of States to ensure that children “have a nationality, including, where appropriate, by granting the nationality of host state”.

“Although the new guidelines do not offer new legal obligations, they distill and exploit key principles that have already been affirmed in international law and adopted by governments around the world,” says Elizabeth Ferris, research professor at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University.

Teresa H. Sadler