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Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to introduce this third Action Lab in Global Child Forum’s Action Lab series.
This Action Lab – focusing on climate change and the impact on children – is especially timely and urgent.
Around the world, children’s rights are suffering a severe setback due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, we are in a state of environmental emergency that is threatening children’s prospects for a healthy and prosperous future.
Rising sea levels. Severe weather events. Drought, forest fires and flooding.
Widespread pollution of air, water and soil. Exposure to toxic substances. Loss of biodiversity.
All of these things put children at risk – for birth defects, failing health and child mortality. For conflict, poverty and child labour.
In fact, each year, more than 1,7 million children under the age of five die as a result of avoidable environmental degradation. 1,7 million – that is three children every minute, whose lives could have been saved.
And millions more suffer consequences of climate change such as disease, disability, and other forms of harm.
At this rate, our current climate crisis will make every one of the Sustainable Development Goals less achievable, slowing efforts to eradicate poverty, improve health and protect the environment.
The effects of this growing crisis are far-reaching and interrelated. Climate change is no longer just an ‘environmental’ issue; it is something that requires collective commitment from all parts of society – especially the business sector.
Because what businesses do – and also what they don’t do – have enormous impact on children and youth.
In 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment recommended that businesses conduct environmental and human rights impact assessments, viewed through a children’s rights lens.
The Special Rapporteur identified climate change as a global concern disproportionately affecting children, echoing a UN Human Rights Council resolution that recognized children as among the most vulnerable to climate change.
Today, we will hear from David Boyd, the current Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment.
So, how will business respond? That is up to you.
What is certain, however, is that inaction is not an option.
Once again, a warm welcome to today’s Action Lab!