In addition to limited access to essential services, children physiologically have more difficulty coping with change and pollution

Children in 98% of African countries are among the most exposed to the effects of climate change

UNICEF/Raphael Pouget - Los niños de África se encuentran entre los más expuestos a los efectos del cambio climático
photo_camera UNICEF/Raphael Pouget - Africa's children are among the most exposed to the effects of climate change

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned Friday in a report that the continent's children are among the most exposed to climate change, but remain underserved by the funding streams needed to help them adapt, survive and cope with the climate crisis.  

According to the document, children in 48 of the 49 African countries assessed are classified as being at high risk of suffering the effects of global warming.  

Time to Act: African Children in the Climate Change Crosshairs assesses countries based on children's exposure to climate and environmental shocks, such as cyclones and heat waves, as well as their vulnerability to these changes based on their access to essential services. 

Physically they are less able to withstand and survive shocks, and physiologically they are more vulnerable to toxic substances such as lead and other forms of pollution. According to the authors, those living in the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Guinea, Somalia and Guinea-Bissau are most at risk. 

In response to this risk, the report examined how multilateral climate funds allocate their resources. Only 2.4% of this key global climate finance can be classified as supporting child-sensitive activities, with an average value of just $71 million per year. If the target group is expanded to include young people, the figure rises to just 6.6 per cent of total fund spending, the agency warned. 

The era of climate migration 

For its part, the IOM (International Organisation for Migration) on Friday called for concrete measures to address climate change and the challenges of human mobility. 

"We have officially entered the era of climate migration," said the agency's director general-elect. "Solutions are urgently needed to address the nexus between climate change and human mobility on a continental scale," Amy Pope added.  

According to the World Bank, without efficient and sustained climate action, up to 105 million people could become internal migrants by 2023 in Africa alone. 

UNOCHA/Yasmina Guerda - Unas mujeres cruzan una masa de agua en Rann, estado de Borno, Nigeria
UNOCHA/Yasmina Guerda - Women cross a body of water in Rann, Borno State, Nigeria

An opportunity to speak out

The African Youth Climate Assembly 2023 began on Friday and runs until 3 September, ahead of the African Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.  

On the occasion of the Assembly, the UN Secretary-General recalled that "African countries have contributed almost nothing to global emissions. Yet they are suffering from scorching heat, ferocious floods and deadly droughts".  

Addressing young people in particular, Ant贸nio Guterres assured that humanity has the power to change course and that the passion and determination of young people around the world are responsible for much of the climate action that has taken place.  

"I ask you to turn up the volume to call for change; mobilise your friends, colleagues and networks; and use this Assembly to network and make your voice heard". 

Addressing the crisis on the continent

Following the Assembly, African leaders will meet to discuss ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and how to adapt to the growing consequences of the climate crisis.  

The event, which begins on 4 September, will be attended by politicians, business leaders and environmental advocates from across the continent. It comes at a time when temperatures are rising faster than in many other parts of the world, leading to more frequent extreme weather events and prolonged droughts, resulting in food shortages and loss of life.  

Africa as a whole accounts for less than 3% of total global emissions, and leaders are expected to redouble their calls for financial assistance to help the continent adapt to the climate crisis. 

"At the African Climate Summit in Nairobi I will urge all leaders to act," said Ant贸nio Guterres. "Developed countries must also deliver climate justice: Take action to ensure that developing countries receive affordable finance; provide the $100 billion a year pledged for climate action; and double adaptation finance," he added. 

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