20 November 2023 – World Vision, a child-focused international humanitarian and development NGO, have released a report on World Children’s Day, and ahead of COP 28 detailing how climate change is severely impacting children and young people across the Middle East. The organisation notes that the Middle East is one of the most volatile and conflict-ridden places in the world as well as being among the regions most exposed to the accelerating effects of climate change. Extreme heat, more frequent and intense sandstorms, droughts, and decrease rainfall, are increasingly affecting the region which suffers from chronic water scarcity and is already warming at twice the global average. This in turn is having a disproportionately detrimental impact on children.
The report Growing up in the Climate Crisis released today, finds that climate change continues to impact children and young people across the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and the West Bank:
- Children and young people are exposed to multiple climate shocks: All children and young people across the region are exposed to multiple extreme climate events, whether they live in rural communities or urban areas. The highest number of children and young people who reported being exposed to heatwaves (99.5%) and dust storms (87.8%) in their communities live in Syria, while nearly all children and young people in Iraq are exposed to higher temperatures.
- Climate change wreaks havoc on children and young people’s lives by increasing food insecurity and hampering access to water: The prevalence of children and young people receiving less food than they require is a staggering 96.7% in Syria and 94% in Lebanon, followed by Iraq (71.6%) and the West Bank (68.4%). Moreover, across all contexts, an average of 94% of respondents reported that their community had less access to water due to the impact of droughts or floods.
- Climate change is negatively impacting access to learning, with girls being most affected: Across all five countries, children and young people consistently cited extreme weather events – primarily floods – as the most common reason preventing or reducing the attendance of both girls and boys at school. A large majority of children and young people in Jordan (77.5%), Iraq (70%) and Syria (76.2%) believe that girls’ school attendance is more disrupted by extreme climate events compared to boys.
- Climate change is taking a toll on children and young people’s mental health: As a result of these challenges, children and young people are generally worried about climate change, with Iraq (92.9%), the West Bank (89.6%), Jordan (75.6%) and Syria (75%) having the highest percentages of respondents who are significantly concerned about climate change impacts.
Amongst the recommendations, World Vision are calling for:
- Governments and concerned stakeholders to include children and young people at all levels of climate policy and decision making;
- Donor action to support fragile and conflict-affected countries in the Middle East with climate adaptation;
- Humanitarian and civil society organisations to integrate climate adaptation into their humanitarian aid responses; and lastly
- For all world leaders to listen to children and young people’s concerns and key messages at COP28, while also taking them into consideration during the high-level negotiations that will follow.
Aaron Tanner, World Vision Middle East and Eastern Europe’s Region Environmental Stewardship and Climate Adaptation (ESCA) Adviser, who will be attending COP28, says:
“Our report released today on World Children’s Day, shows that the lived realities of some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the Middle East in the face of climate change are daunting and worrying. The climate crisis is making children and young people’s lives even harder and forcing them out of their homes, for some, for the second time.
“The children and young people we spoke to did not cause climate change. Yet, they inspire us by their motivation and willingness to tackle an adult-made climate crisis. Our research shows that they want to channel their negative feelings about climate change into solution-focused and collective actions to help their communities and create a better, greener, and safer world for them and future generations.
“We must now empower and support them in their potential role as agents of change. We must listen to them, ensuring that their views, experiences, ideas and concerns are part of climate discussions and decision-making.”
Growing up in the Climate Crisis is available here.
Notes To Editors
Aaron Tanner, World Vision Middle East and Eastern Europe’s Region Environmental Stewardship and Climate Adaptation (ESCA) Adviser, will be attending COP 28 on World Vision's behalf and is available for interview or further comments.
For more information, please contact Evita Jourdi, World Vision Middle East and Eastern Europe’s Communications and Advocacy Adviser on: firstname.lastname@example.org