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Climate change: join us in acting now to make lasting change tomorrow

POSTED April 18, 2022

Climate change: join us in acting now to make lasting change tomorrow

This Earth Day, our CEO reflects on what the world’s environmental state means to the vulnerable children, families and communities we help

By Fred Witteveen, CEO,

Fred Whitteveen - Profile

We’ve reached a “climate emergency.”

That’s the warning from António Guterres, UN secretary-general, following this month’s “Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change” report released ahead of this week’s Earth Day.

These findings of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate harmful carbon emissions were at their highest ever between 2010 and 2019. Today, the rate of growth has slowed, but more reductions are urgently needed.

“We need to cut global emissions by 45 percent this decade,” says Guterres. “But current climate pledges would mean a 14-percent increase in emissions.”

How does this translate in our world? Cities under water, untold heatwaves, frightening storms, water shortages and the loss of animal and plant species will become more common.

But that’s not all. The Scienceacademic journal Science recently published data that our children are expected to face up to seven times more extreme weather events than their grandparents.

In vulnerable countries, climate change threatens child protection, child hunger and migration, creating barriers to live fearlessly.

How is climate change impacting communities where we work?

We’re already seeing intense weather events in the countries where we have sponsored children.

It’s impacting agriculture and livelihoods, contributing to poverty, malnutrition and gender inequalities among women and girls who often can’t access or control resources, education, information or community decision-making.

So, imagine the shift in lifestyle. In the past year-and-a-half, our teams in Africa, Asia and the Americas have responded to numerous emergency weather events. Consider: extreme heat, droughts and flooding in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Ethiopia; hurricanes in Nicaragua; floods, landslides and cyclones in India.

As one of the largest carbon emitters in the world, India has become among the most climate-affected countries. But, its people aren’t alone in feeling the effects.

Maria Isabel Lopez, our country director in Nicaragua, reminds me the Central American country is the second most affected by tropical storms, according to a report released by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery and The World Bank. The ecological area is also a dry corridor, which is prone to droughts.

Africa is facing troubling situations, too.

“[Extreme] heat is affecting water availability,” explains Christelle Kalhoule, our director of West Africa. She adds: “Dams are drying up and market gardening, which was an alternative source of income, is affected. Water shortages affect humans and animals, and it’s raising conflicts between farmers and breeders.”

The stories go on. It’s why our organization has become more and more agile.

We’re conducting frequent assessments to address rapidly changing contexts, identifying needs of the most vulnerable populations and providing timely emergency response so we can break barriers threatening their futures.

That’s led to strengthening our approach on psychosocial support following man-made emergencies, as well as those related to extreme weather events, partnering with emergency response and mitigation authorities and more.

Boy stands in garden and shows what's growing

What’s our plan to further incorporate sustainable thinking into our work?

Youth across our programs are a big part of driving positive change in this area. We’re working with them to form groups to break these barriers by planting trees, developing home and school gardens and cleaning up their neighbourhoods.

Meanwhile, we’re leading more work across country programs based on needs.

  • Nicaragua: We’re training community members and risk- and disaster-management committees to identify vulnerabilities, create community maps and plans as well as raise awareness.
  • Burkina Faso: A community-managed, cost-effective solar lamp project is brightening the way for students to learn efficiently.
  • India: Youth are being trained as leaders in promoting safe, secure environments. To provide a more fertile environment for that work, we’re developing land overtaken by pervasive weeds and using desilting tanks to clean water for agriculture.

Next steps as we seek to make sustainable change for communities and the planet

As we continue to evolve our work on climate change, we’re guided by three sustainability principles:

  • respect for the environment and natural resources
  • a plan to continue integrating disaster-risk reduction and climate change adaptation into our programming to safeguard communities, reducing and mitigating dangers; and
  • a goal to leverage sustainable opportunities, such as renewable energy, green growth and more.

Admittedly, we have a lot to do. But, we are committed to learning and growing, with support from young leaders.

In India, an upcoming project supported through The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives will bring youth to the forefront in making change. They’ll help address carbon emission targets through tree planting in “Oxy Parks” and education on building lower-carbon lifestyles.

We’re also developing an android app to influence youth in India to live a low-carbon lifestyle and build climate resilience. It will provide details on ecology, the connection between land, climate change and its impact, promoting sustainable practices.

Meanwhile, we’re working to join with partners to find nature-based solutions to climate change challenges in Africa. Of course, we can’t do any of this alone. So, we’re engaged in growing our impact by…

  • working with partners at the ChildFund Alliance — a group of child-focused organizations around the world — to make greater impact through joint actions and policy influencing;
  • boosting our partnerships with STEM-based institutions, among other initiatives to strengthen our programming through smart technologies; and
  • amplifying the voice of children impacted by climate change.

Join us as we work with our supporters, partners and governments to help more children and youth break barriers to basic needs through emergencies so they can be safe and nourished while secure in their home communities and free to go to school.

Be part of the change. Sponsor a child today.

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Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.

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