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Moving beyond Cancun: all children welcome

I touched down back from Cancun over the weekend. Caught in the frenzy of jet lag, lost baggage and media calls after a 40 hour journey, it was a tiring return to the cold reality of London. Where is the sun and the white sand, I wonder?

The Cancun Accord now stands signed and delegates have headed back home. The expectations for Cancun had been set so low that when there was finally an agreement on the green fund, it caught the world’s attention.

It renewed hope, and some said that it brought the climate change talks back to life. People spoke of their newly found faith in multilateralism and working together! But for who, actually? Children continue to die from floods and droughts in the poorest and most vulnerable countries as I write.

The big deal came through at the end of a night long ordeal, but lots of questions remained unanswered. While developed countries recognized the need to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and restrict temperature rises to 2 degrees celsius, this didn’t translate into a legally binding treaty.

While it’s important to prevent climate change, we’re concerned about funding reaching the most vulnerable communities to help them adapt to the changes created by climate change that are already affecting them. As result of the negotiations the allocation of spending to help countries adapt to and prevent further climate change appears to be more lip–service than actual commitments because much of the funding has yet to reach the poorest communities.

We have certainly moved forward from Copenhagen. It covers a number of issues important to children and child rights:

  • Article 6 on education
  • the recognition of the infringement of climate change on human rights
  • discussion of impacts on vulnerable groups
  • the acknowledgement of the need to involve key stakeholders in assessing and implementing adaptation priorities to ensure climate resilience for the most vulnerable nations.

However, children are still excluded, despite them being the single most vulnerable group of climate change. This is a huge concern.

As we settle behind our PCs, it’s time for reflection and strategising. How can we ensure that when we engage with key delegates and consultative processes we’re getting them to focus on the impact of climate change on children? As new adaptation financing streams open up and funding decisions are made, how do we make sure that children can be at the heart of the debate?

Forums such as the Global Children’s Panel and the Children in Changing Climate Coalition are excellent platforms to galvanise and engage children, providing a route for advocacy for children to speak with global leaders. Children bring energy and creativity often missing in us adults! We ought to recognise this as we move forward towards COP17 and make sure their voices are heard.

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