Children with plants in Asia

Urban youth survey reveals air pollution biggest concern

04 November, 2022 - A survey of almost 300 youth and children across 35 cities and towns in 16 countries worldwide has revealed that air pollution is their biggest concern. As thousands prepare to gather in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt for the annual climate conference, COP27, World Vision and other members of the Global Alliance Cities 4 Children have been asking young people about their most pressing urban health concerns. Being able to breathe in their cities topped the list.

“Children and young people face many problems in urban areas, especially fragile areas like settlements and slums,” explained Aline Rahbany, World Vision’s Urban Programming Technical Director, “but this survey once again shows that environmental issues are at the forefront of their minds. Air pollution came top, but proper waste and garbage management, and other issues affected by climate change like access to sufficient, clean water also scored highly.”

The respondents also voted on what could be done to help bring about desperately needed change in their cities. Raising awareness of the problems that affected them and youth empowerment programmes were the top two results.

Shania, 15, from Tanzania, is a participant of a SAUTI-Youth Project supported by the European Union and African Union, and of World Vision’s Citizen Voice and Action programme, which both help to raise the confidence of youth to speak up on behalf of their communities and themselves. She has been invited to speak in person to leaders of the COP27 Presidency.

Other youth have recorded messages for COP27 leaders about the impact of the climate crisis on their lives. These include Souksavanh, 15, from Laos, whose family lost their house, rice field, and animals to extreme weather; and Frederick, 17, from Zambia who worries drought will mean him exchanging schooling for searching for food.

Another popular solution voted for by the young people was regreening. World Vision will also be bringing young people from Niger to Egypt to tell the story of how nature-based solutions like Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration or FMNR* turned bare land to rich green farmland.

“It is vital that leaders at COP27 hear the voices of children affected by climate change – and that they take action,” said Andrew Morley President and CEO of World Vision International. “World Vision is there to ensure this happens, and to share one of our great pioneering solutions - Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, regreening vast swathes of land and bringing hope to communities. We hope and pray that this will be a summit of actions, not just of words.”

For an interview or more information contact Susannah Cernojevich on susannah_cernojevich@wvi.org or +1-202-276-2322

Learn more about World Vision’s attendance and participation at COP27 

Notes to Editors

•               FMNR was pioneered by staff member Tony Rinaudo working with local community members. He will be attending COP27 in week 2 of the conference.

•               Survey respondents were from Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia, Indonesia, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Mongolia, Nepal, Malawi, Nicaragua, Uganda, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Hondurus and Brazil.

•               The urban children and youth survey was led by World Vision with Global Alliance Cities 4 Children partners that include Plan International, UNICEF, Slum Dwellers international and Dreamtown NGO as part of an urban thinkers campus that contributes to UN-Habitat's World Urban Campaign. The World Urban Campaign is a coalition of urban stakeholders to raise awareness about positive urban change in order to achieve sustainable cities and communities. Read more here.