- 1,200 Canadian children surveyed for global report on climate change and inequality
- Save the Children Canada calling on Government of Canada to show leadership in upcoming COP27 and G20 meetings
- In Canada, climate-related disasters are disproportionately affecting Indigenous communities
Toronto, 26 October 2022 – Today, Save the Children released a new report on climate change and economic inequality that includes insights from 54,000 children in 15 countries—including 1,200 children in Canada—whom the organization heard from in a major consultation conducted between May and August 2022.
A staggering 88% of Canadian children surveyed said they have noticed climate change and/or inequality affect the world around them, and 84% feel countries need to “work together” to address climate change and inequality.
Generation Hope: 2.4 billion reasons to end the global climate and inequality crisis, developed by the child rights organization with climate modelling from researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), found that 80% of children are affected by at least one extreme climate event a year. Many are at even greater risk because they also face poverty and have less capacity to protect themselves and recover from extreme weather events.
An estimated 774 million children across the world – or nearly one third of the world’s child population – are living with the dual impacts of poverty and high climate risk, according to the report. The research also shows how these multiple, overlapping risks are linked to and exacerbate the current global food, nutrition and cost of living crisis that is causing 345 million people in 82 countries to face a severe lack of food.
Global survey of children
Generation Hope: 2.4 billion reasons to end the global climate and inequality crisis draws on insights from 54,000 children in 15 countries surveyed between May and August 2022. Among the findings:
- 1 in 3 thinks there is a lot of inequality where they live
- 1 in 2 thinks the weather is getting worse due to climate change and/or economic inequality
- 4 in 10 think the environment is deteriorating because of these two interconnected crises
Among the 1,200 Canadian children surveyed:
- 61% think rich countries are more responsible for these issues
- 84% feel countries need to “work together” to address climate change and inequality
- 75% think inequality in Canada is a “big problem”
- 88% have noticed climate change and/or inequality affect the world around them. (Heatwaves were the most reported natural disasters in Canada.)
Danny Glenwright, President and CEO of Save the Children Canada, said:
“The connection between climate change and inequality has created a perfect storm for nearly a third of the world’s children. They are facing more extreme weather events, with those living in the greatest degree of poverty having the least protection and ability to recover. Climate-related disasters like droughts, heatwaves and floods have tragic ripple effects on children’s rights to safety, health, nutrition, and education.
“Here at home, children in Canada are feeling the effects of climate change—from heat waves, to flooding and wildfires. We know that as a result of colonization and ongoing discrimination, climate change is disproportionally affecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and communities—affecting infrastructure, local economies, health and well-being, and the local ecosystems.
“It’s imperative that we put children inclusive of child and Indigenous rights at the heart of our country’s climate change policy and plans, both in Canada and globally. Their voices and input need to be at the forefront of change. At the upcoming COP27 and G20 summits, rapid intervention and leadership from high-income countries, like Canada, could help to turn the tide to the benefit of all. Taking a child and Indigenous rights-based approach can prove to be effective and sustainable. As an affluent country, Canada must take urgent action to limit catastrophic climate change by meeting our carbon emission target and paying our fair share to help poorer countries meet theirs.
“Finding solutions can feel overwhelming, yet we cannot fall into despair. There is hope, but we must focus on the links and overlaps between climate change and poverty. Rising temperatures and rising food prices are connected. We will never find our way to a healthier planet for all if we only deal with issues in isolation.
The country with the highest percentage of children dealing with this double burden is South Sudan (87%), followed by the Central African Republic (85%) and Mozambique (80%).
The analysis revealed that India has the highest total number of children both living in poverty and bearing the brunt of the climate crisis — up to 223 million children in total. It is followed by Nigeria and Ethiopia, with 58 million and 36 million children, respectively.
A significant number of children – 121 million – live in higher income countries, including Canada, where climate-related disasters are disproportionately affecting Indigenous communities. In this country, floods, wildfires, and heatwaves have severely disrupted family and social structures, and delayed recoveries may lead to long-term effects on the lives of Canadian children.
Meanwhile, across the globe, 183 million children face the triple threat of high climate risk, poverty and conflict. Out of the total child population experiencing this triple burden, children in Burundi (63%), Afghanistan (55%) and the Central African Republic (41%) are the most affected.
The new report comes as families across the world battle the worst global hunger crisis this century, lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine further driving up food prices.
Luciano, 12, lives in a displacement camp in Malawi. His family lost their home after cyclone Ana ripped through the island where they lived. Luciano said:
“We moved to the camp because water flooded on the other side of the river and it surprised us when we were sleeping. We tried to save the ducks and the chickens, but all we managed to save was a few of our clothes. My little brother was on top of the house. The house collapsed, and suddenly he was gone.
“At the camp we do not eat enough food. When I used to live on the other side of the river, I was not like this. Now I have lost some weight. But I have hope and I would like to live the life I lived before the floods, again.
A child born in 2020, compared to a person born in 1960, will experience on average:
- twice as many wildfires
- 8 times the exposure to crop failure
- 6 times as many droughts
- 8 times as many river floods
- 8 times more heatwaves in their lifetime.
- One million people are facing famine across five countries.
- One person is dying every four seconds of hunger.
- To estimate the number of children living in poverty and affected by high climate risk, Save the Children estimated the proportion of climate-affected children and children affected by poverty in 1,925 subnational regions across 159 countries, covering 98% of the total child population. The poverty measure used is multi-dimensional, with children classed as living in poverty if they suffer deprivation in at least one of the following areas: health, nutrition, education, housing, water or sanitation. We estimated the proportion of children which are experiencing at least one extreme climate event per year (wildfires, crop failures, droughts, river floods, heatwaves, and tropical cyclones) based on an analysis by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel for Save the Children, using the largest multi-model climate impact projections database available to date.
- When combining the share of children in poverty and affected by high climate risk on a subnational level, we assumed that poverty is equally distributed within those regions, likely leading to an underestimate given that poorer households often live in more risk-prone areas.
- In this report, we refer to low and lower middle-income countries as “lower income”, and high and upper middle-income countries as “higher income”.
- More information can be found in the full methodology note.
For additional information please contact Tiffany Baggetta, Head of Communications, Media and PR:
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