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Building a common vision to prevent and prepare for accelerating child displacement in the context of climate change 

Wednesday 14 – Friday 16 February 2024 I WP3346

CHIldren displaced in a changing climate

Confronting and bridging silos

Participants identified persistent professional and political silos impeding collective action, which represent a major foundational challenge in our efforts to prevent, respond to and find solutions to internal displacement of children. These include divisions between the climate change, migration and child rights communities of practice; between humanitarian and development approaches; and between government actors and affected communities, including children and young people. The importance of a collaborative multi-sectoral and whole of government approach that prioritises the inclusion of affected communities, including children, was stressed throughout as key to ‘building a bridge’ across these silos and pave the way forward.    

Influencing climate change policy

Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and Damage (L&D)

Despite the heightened impacts and unique vulnerabilities of children in the context of climate change – with children comprising approximately half the displaced population – they are often overlooked in countries’ responses to climate change, and in deliberations and guidance emanating from the intergovernmental United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) process.  

Parties to the Paris Agreement have agreed that States should, when taking climate action, respect, promote and consider the rights of children, as well as intergenerational equity. However, this commitment has yet to translate into significant climate policy initiatives or action. Less than half of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are child-sensitive, and just 2.4 per cent of key multilateral climate funds can be classified as supporting child-responsive programmes. This is despite extensive research and decades of programme implementation indicating that investment in children’s formative years is more cost-effective than equivalent investments later in life, providing comprehensive, immediate and enduring pathways to addressing wellbeing, community resilience and sustainable societies. 

The Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage – including the ExCom Task Force on Displacement – was identified as a critical process for furthering policy and finance solutions targeting most-affected children/communities and provision of essential social services. Both child-inclusive and displacement-sensitive language were included in the decision to operationalise the fund at COP28.

Participants identified opportunities to build on these hooks by engaging with the Santiago network and participation in its sixtieth session (SB60) preparatory negotiations. Under the outcome of the first global stocktake, Parties requested the Subsidiary Body for Implementation, at SB60, to hold an expert dialogue on children and climate change to discuss the disproportionate impacts of climate change on children and relevant policy solutions in this regard, engaging relevant United Nations entities, international organisations and non-governmental organisations in this effort.  

Potential next steps
  • Engage board members – and foster champions on displacement and children – including through work with partners (Childrens Environmental child rights CERI coalition and World Bank) was identified as a critical advocacy tactic to engage in L&D policy as well as the new Loss and Damage Fund.
  • Engage with and build on the Taskforce on Displacement’s (TFD) priorities to ensure displacement and its impacts are accounted for when assessing the L&D incurred by climate vulnerable people and in resulting funding decisions and arrangements and that displaced people meaningfully participate in assessments of climate impacts, in the planning and implementation of measures to avert, minimise and address L&D, and in related funding decisions.
  • Engage in SB60 Expert Dialogue on Disproportionate Impact of Climate Change on Children to strategically position displacement and mobility.

Global Goal on Adaptation  

At COP28, seven thematic targets were established (water and sanitation, health, food, poverty/ social protection, infrastructure, ecosystems, cultural heritage) around the implementation of the Global Goal on Adaptation. There was recognition of the role of education​, and children were recognised as a cross-cutting consideration. We now have the chance to embed child-sensitive metrics for climate-resilient social services and child participation as integral elements of global adaptation responses and reporting by Parties​. This will also be a critical entry point for anchoring displacement and mobility consideration in adaptation.

Potential next steps
  • Contribute to joint National Adaptation Plan (NAP) technical guidelines​ – and support key countries to develop child-centred and displacement-sensitive NAPs.
  • Engage in thematic expert group on sectoral adaptation (i.e. social protection, nutrition, health)​.
  • Support the development of indicators (i.e., disaggregation by age, sex and displacement/migration status/ monitoring system development).​
  • Cost-benefit analysis of social sector adaptation and child/displacement-sensitive marker

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)

During the discussions, participants highlighted that as Parties develop their next generation NDCs throughout 2024, there is an opportunity to support them to be more inclusive and rights-based for children and young people, and ensure child-critical social services are climate resilient and prepared for displacement. This could be through including a focus on sector-based programming, youth-driven campaigns, strategic partnerships, and stories of how young people affected by climate-related displacement are raising climate awareness and participating in advocacy platforms.

Potential next steps
  • Develop child-sensitivity marker and checklist for child-centred and displacement-sensitive NDCs.
  • Support a target % of countries’ national climate plans (the NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPS) to be child- and displacement-sensitive by 2025, using consistent language around targets and common approaches to reporting progress (in IDP pilot countries to deliver on the ‘prevention’ focus in the SG Action Agenda.)

Children displaced in a changing climate: preparing for a future already underway


Internal Displacement Policy and Action

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