Young people rethinking parenthood in future due to climate change: UNICEF

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A global poll by the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that climate change has made young people across the world reconsider their future plans for parenthood, underlining their uncertainty about the future of the planet.

Published on Wednesday at the COP27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the findings revealed that that nearly half of young Africans are now rethinking their plans to eventually have children someday.

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Youth in the Middle East and North Africa (44 percent) and Sub-Saharan Africa (43 percent) accounted for the highest rate increase than youth from other regions. More than other young people globally, they reported that they were beginning to feel the direct impact of climate change through shocks which have affected their access to food and water, as well as their family’s income.

More than 243,500 young people from 163 countries took part in UNICEF’s U-Report throughout July and August this year. U-Report is a digital platform that supports youth engagement on program priorities, emergency response and advocacy action.

“The impacts of climate change are with us now, but they are far more than floods, droughts and heatwaves. They extend to our very sense of hope,” said Paloma Escudero, head of UNICEF’s COP27 delegation.

“Especially in Africa, young people are seeing the impact these shocks are having on themselves and those they love, and it is changing their plans for the future. But it doesn’t have to. At COP27, world leaders must listen to this anxiety from young people and take immediate action to protect them.”

Globally, more than half of the poll’s respondents said they have experienced either drought or extreme heat. One in four young people experienced flooding, air pollution, and said that their family’s income source was impacted by climate change.

Other findings included three in five saying they have considered moving to another country or city due to climate change, 70 percent of whom were respondents based in the Middle East and North Africa.

Particularly worrying was that two in five said they had less food to eat. The highest percentage of young people reporting this impact were based in Sub-Saharan Africa (52 percent).

UNICEF urged businesses and governments to rapidly reduce emissions and take immediate action to protect children from climate devastation by adapting the crucial social services they rely on.

“There is a lot of talk about policy decisions, but that is not what is at stake here at COP27,” said Escudero.

“This survey makes it clear young people’s futures are up in the air – whether they have children, whether they leave their countries, how well they survive the dangers they face. For their sake, success at COP27 must be measured by the delivery of long-promised financing to help communities adapt and the development of solutions to respond to loss and damage.”

A survey by The Lancet last year revealed that 39 percent of the 10,000 global respondents were hesitant to have children.

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