Save the Children
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Save the Children
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Risk reduction (12 hits),

Full Submission

Submission by Save the Children, Plan International and World Vision (for the Children in a Changing Climate coalition) for Zero Draft of the outcomes document of UNCSD Rio+20, 2012

Children in a Changing Climate (CCC) is a coalition of leading child-centred development and humanitarian agencies calling for investment in children as agents of change for resilient, sustainable development. CCC welcomes the dual track of Rio+20 to i) develop a roadmap for the green economy, and ii) develop a new institutional framework for sustainable development. These are two areas that are crucial for building a green, environmentally safe world for current and future generations. This submission outlines the key issues for children that must be considered in the development of a new institutional framework for sustainable development.

The Role of Children and Young People in Sustainable Development

Children and young people every day demonstrate their important role in achieving and raising awareness about environmental safety and sustainability. The involvement of youth in environment and development decisionmaking and in the implementation of programmes is critical to successful sustainable development the world over.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In order to successfully and equitably achieve this aim, we must put today?s children and future generations at the heart of any sustainable development plans.

Girls and boys under the age of 18 make up half the population in some of the worlds poorest countries, and over a third of the population of the world as a whole. They are some of the most vulnerable people requiring protection in the face of environmental risks, in particular the immediate and long-term impacts of climate change and disasters. Their children will inherit the world we leave behind.

Through our education, disaster Risk reduction and climate change adaptation programmes, we have seen children advancing the principles of sustainability in school, at social clubs, and at home ? effecting real change in their communities, and their countries, right up to the global level.

Education for sustainable development (ESD), as part of the formal curriculum as well as informal education activities, ensures that children are well informed about environmental degradation and environmental risks. With this knowledge and suitable encouragement young people are able to contribute fully to policymaking and action to address environment and development issues. ESD should be a central part of a strategy for sustainable development for the 21st century.

In order to secure a sustainable future for the world:

. Education and awareness for sustainable development must be prioritised in planning and implementation for sustainable development.
Education and awareness raising are the foundation of sustainability, safety and resilience-building in development. Through formal and informal education activities, children can raise one another?s awareness and that of their duty-bearers: parents, teachers, community leaders, local governments. The principles and options for sustainable development will then be understood, supported and acted upon.

. The active involvement of children and young people in planning, decision-making and implementation of sustainable development activities must be encouraged and supported, financially and technically, by national governments and the international system.
Girls and boys of all ages must be given equitable access to information and opportunities to meaningfully take part in ensuring sustainability in their futures, and for their children. Their unique insight and contribution are crucial, from the local level to the international; and their role as implementers of sustainable development activities is pivotal to the success of those activities.

It?s already happening

Stepping up to the challenge, in 2011 around 2000 children from Africa, Asia and Latin America took part in two global consultations calling for the increased involvement of communities, in particular children, in decision making and action to identify and reduce environmental risks. One of these culminated in the production of the Children?s Charter for Disaster Risk reduction which has been translated into multiple languages and dialects and has been signed up to by more than 200 representatives from civil society and 26 governments to date.

In the Philippines, children made short films to successfully lobby their local government to ban chromite mining, which was poisoning a river and exacerbating floods. In Bihar, India, children across 50 villages played a major role in community risk mapping and leading village taskforces for flood Risk reduction, including developing community plans for child protection in emergencies. Child-centred education training builds the skills of local governments to engage with children and introduces teachers to new participatory teaching methods, including for Risk reduction lessons. In Laos, children themselves have reported higher school attendance after the teachers began to use new methods in other classes.

Children and young people are increasing their knowledge and stepping up their action for sustainable, resilient development in communities across Asia, Latin America and Africa. With regular, specific and systematic support ESD can continue to generate in this vast and relatively untapped stakeholder group the knowledge, motivation and wherewithal to achieve a sustainable world for the future.

It?s already supported

Multiple international agreements and campaigns have already emphasised, acknowledged, and committed to the importance of children?s role in building a sustainable future for the world. The outcome of the Rio+20 meeting should echo and advance Agenda 21: It must continue to advance education for sustainable development, and support children?s meaningful participation in decision making which will affect them, and their world ? and the future of both.

The outcome document from Rio+20, must put children and future generations at the heart of any new sustainable development initiatives, recognising their centrality to the creation and success of sustainability.

This submission is based upon and supported through several international agreements and campaigns, including

. UNDESA Agenda 21, chapters 3 (poverty), 24 (women), 25 (children and youth), 36 (education and awareness)

. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, articles 3 (best interests of the child), 6 (survival and development), 12 (right to participate), 28 and 29 (right to education)

. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, articles 4 (commitments), 6 (education and awareness)

. Millennium Development Goals, especially 1 (poverty), 2 (primary education), 4 (reduce child mortality), 7 (environmental sustainability)

. Hyogo Framework for Action, especially priorities 1 (governance), 3 (knowledge and education)

. SAARC Declaration, article III.B.4 (education, awareness and training for disaster management)

. Incheon REMAP, article I.E. (child-centred and people-centred education for Risk reduction)

. Beijing Declaration on South-South Cooperation for Child Rights, paragraphs 15-17 (equity) and 18-20 (environment and disaster Risk reduction)

. Children?s Charter for Disaster Risk reduction, signed up to by 200+ individuals including representatives from civil society, the UN and 26 national Governments

. UNISDR Step Up! for Disaster Risk reduction campaign, supported by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon

Children?s Charter

an action plan for disaster Risk reduction

for children by children

The Children?s Charter for Disaster Risk reduction (DRR) has been developed through consultations with more than 600 children in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Children were asked about the impacts of disasters on their lives, the networks that exist in their communities to tackle disasters and their priorities for DRR going forward.

The following abbreviated version of the charter presents five points selected based on the priorities identified by children themselves, grouped together according to the most common themes.

The aim of this charter is to raise awareness of the need for a child - centred approach to DRR and for stronger commitment from governments, donors and agencies to take appropriate steps to protect children and utilise their energy and knowledge to engage in DRR and climate change adaptation.

1) Schools must be safe and education must not be interrupted

?I felt unhappy when I saw the school destroyed by the storm. I did not go to school because the school was destroyed. It happened at night and in the morning my friend and I went to school and found it had been destroyed.?

child from Laos

2.) Child protection must be a priority before, during and after a disaster

?We do not feel protected by anyone in our community? child from Mozambique. In India, children suggested training in life - skills which they feel would ?enable them to protect themselves from risks and troubles? and that they be provided special care when they are traumatised by disasters.

3.) Children have the right to participate and to access the information they need

?I am part of the Emergency Committee that has been created in the community. Our goal is to reduce the disaster risk by implementing the principles of the Community Emergency Plan.? child from

Dominican Republic.

4.) Community infrastructure must be safe, and relief and reconstruction must help reduce future risk.

?Build bridges because every year children miss school in the rainy season when they have to cross gullies, rivers and water channels huge enough to drown them.?

child from Lesotho

5.) Disaster Risk reduction must reach the most vulnerable

?In my area, there were three children about - 5 years old. Once they went on the river dyke to avoid the flood water which could make them wet on the street, but they slipped and fell in the river and were drowned because they could not swim.?

child from Philippines

Children?s Charter Pledge

By signing up to the pledge below, you can show your support to make this important Children?s Charter a reality to improve the situation for children around the world.

?I/We pledge to prioritise and include children in DRR programming. I/We will report on progress at the Global Platform in 2013.?

For more information and to sign up to the Children?s Charter please visit our website

1.) Schools must be safe and education must not be interrupted

Education was the most commonly occurring theme and prioritised by all children during the consultations. Children want access to information and training in DRR, they want DRR and climate change to be included in the curriculum and for their schools to be safe and built on higher ground. ? We want to learn about DRR through outdoor activities; you can find truth from practice? ( child from China ). They also want their learning materials to be protected and for safe play areas to be identified before a disaster so they can continue as normal a life as possible. If safe play areas are not identified before a disaster, children report that their movement is restricted and they end up either staying in their homes or playing in unsafe environments such as rubbish dumps or flood waters.

2.) Child protection must be a priority before, during and after a disaster

The consultations raised a number of child protection issues which deeply affect children?s security and sense of well - being. Children want protection from harmful behaviours and practices and state that after a disaster, especially if they are forced to move away from their homes as a result, they feel insecure, at risk and unsafe. ? We left our houses to come here when the floods happened. We live in tents; we do not feel safe here? ( child from Mozambique ). Children also report increased child

- trafficking, child labour and dropping out of school as a result of disasters. Clearly, children?s psycho

- social well

- being as well as their physical security is being routinely affected by disasters, and the ?normal channels? are insufficient to protect children.

3.) Children have the right to participate and to access the information they need

Children are ready and willing to participate in measures to tackle disaster risks and climate change ? they want to help disseminate key messages and protect their communities as well as themselves.

Whilst some children acknowledge that measures are been taken to disseminate awareness and information through the radio, village gatherings and school visits, the majority of children feel completely cut off from any information regarding disasters. Children expect and are asking for help to raise their awareness and level of preparedness. Rather than children feeling that ?adults do not listen to what we say? ( child from Mozambique ) children need to be given the opportunity as citizens in their own right to contribute and engage in DRR activities within their communities.

4.) Community infrastructure must be safe, and relief and reconstruction must help reduce future risk

Children are sensitive to the continual erosion of development in their communities. For instance, to enable continued access to health care and thereby to reduce illness during a disaster, children highlighted the importance of safe hospitals and health centres. They also identified the need to maintain access through improved roads and bridges as when these are damaged and not repaired, children are unable to travel safely to school and are often forced to stay at home. Children also report that in times of disaster, a range of services are cut off and reconstruction efforts are often insufficient in bringing them back to a reasonable standard. Children have a strong awareness of the need to clean up and care for the environment and the way in which unsafe and dirty environments are impacting them. Finally, they understand safeguarding livelihoods will help them remain children - ?The dam water can be used for irrigation and this will help us get food and learn better.? ( child from Kenya )

5.) Disaster Risk reduction must reach the most vulnerable people

Children recognise that people are affected differently by disasters. They felt that some people are more vulnerable than others and require special attention; yet such groups are often ignored and isolated. The children identified a range of factors including disability, age, gender, social status and proximity (specifically communities living in remote locations) as determining levels of inclusion.

? To me, there is a big difference because many disabled children are not treated properly by providing them the necessary information since they are not being taken into account due to the fact of being disabled.? ( child from the Philippines ). The children also felt that orphans and young children below the age of five needed particular attention. 1. The consultations were conducted: by Save the Children in Cambodia, China, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ethiopia, India, Laos, Mozambique, Philippines and Vanuatu; by World Vision in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Mexico, Nicaragua, Philippines, Tanzania and Vietnam; and by Plan in Indonesia

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