Context changes radically affect children, especially when they live in unstable contexts. Since the pandemic began, in the face of the uncertainty caused by the situation and economic vulnerability, the problems within households have worsened, where the most affected are children and adolescents (NNA), since they have fewer spaces for accompaniment and containment. This makes visible the social, gender, mental health gaps, among many others.
The same thing is happening today in the face of the climate crisis: children and adolescents are not responsible for this type of problem and even less for the impacts on the ecosystem, but it is they who bear the greatest burden of the phenomenon, because they are not only vulnerable to the extreme weather conditions that are increasing over the years worldwide but also to the risks and diseases that they cause.
Unicef’s recent report on the “Childhood Climate Risk Index” showed for the first time how many children live in areas exposed to multiple environmental disasters. Where all children are at risk or at least affected by stress as a result of climate change, whether due to heat waves, cyclones, air pollution, floods, water scarcity, among others. At the level of Latin America and the Caribbean, 169 million minors are prone to at least two climate and environmental crises, since 25% of them live in areas affected by at least four disturbances.
Adaptation to climate change must be designed with a focus on children. Along with environmental care policies, family containment strategies and communication mechanisms especially aimed at children should be incorporated, which promotes involvement with solutions, understanding of the problem and the development of coping resources. The problem has been generated by adults, but we cannot repeat the mistake of forgetting childhood when thinking about how to face it.
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