Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Goal 13 aims to combat climate change and its impacts by taking urgent action. Climate change and environmental degradation are equity issues that undermine the rights of every child, especially the most disadvantaged. The realization of children’s rights, as embedded throughout the SDGs, are contingent on taking action to address and adapt to climate change.

Climate change is a direct threat to a child’s ability to survive, grow and thrive. While children are the least responsible for the changing environment, close to 90 per cent of the burden of disease attributable to climate change is borne by children under the age of 5. Every year, over half a million children under the age of 5 die from causes related to air pollution. Even more will suffer lasting damage to their developing brains and lungs. Today, for the first time, a global generation of children will grow up in a world made far more dangerous and uncertain by changing climate and a degraded environment.

UNICEF works with partners at the global and local levels to ensure that children can live in a safe and clean environment. UNICEF helps put children at the centre of climate change strategies and response plans, recognizing them as agents of change who are taking action everywhere to protect the future of the planet.  Data are required to accelerate strategies and actions on priority areas for children and climate action. Climate change related data/evidence on areas most relevant to children is scarce, specifically on interlinkages between climate and child health, nutrition, education, displacement, migration, etc. Collecting and disaggregating Goal 13 targets and indicators is vital to understanding how and where children are being left behind in the context of addressing climate change.

Child-related SDG indicators

TARGET 13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries

Key asks

UNICEF has nine key asks that encourage governments conducting a Voluntary National Review to ensure their reports on SDG 13:

  1. Support continuous and environmentally-focused education during the pandemic.
  2. Make children and child voices/solutions the centre of climate change and environmental strategies and plans.
  3. Enhance ambition of mitigation and adaptation approaches for children and youth.
  4. Recognize children as agents of change.
  5. Protect children from the impacts of climate change.
  6. Reduce greenhouse gases and promote sustainable energy investments.
  7. Address environmental degradation and reduce the effect of harmful pollutants on children.
  8. Accelerate and scale up investments to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity of children to climate impacts.
  9. Reduce inequity to promote resilience to climate change.

Learn more about UNICEF’s key asks for implementing Goal 13