Stakeholders urged to recognize impact of climate change

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Mrs Darkoa Newman, President’s Representative at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), has called on stakeholders to recognize the impact of climate change and continue to work hard to safeguard our environment.

climate change“In doing so, we protect and strengthen our family units, and enhance the quality of life for all”, she added.

Mrs Newman made the call at a symposium organized by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to commemorate this year’s International Day of Families, on Wednesday, in Accra, on the theme: “Child protection and climate change.”

She said the day, established by the United Nations in 1993, was to raise awareness and emphasize the importance of families in society.

She said this year’s theme: “Families and Climate Change”, with Ghana adopting the theme ‘Child Protection and Climate Change’, highlighted vital role families played in addressing the pressing global climate crisis.

She said families found themselves at the forefront of climate change, grappling with displacement, food insecurity, health emergencies, and economic uncertainties, however, they hold the key to addressing these crisis and forging a sustainable future for generations to come.

“Through adopting sustainable practices such as energy conservation, water preservation, waste reduction, and minimizing carbon footprint, families can lead by example in mitigating the impacts of climate change.”

Mrs Newman said child protection was a pressing global issue, covering various challenges like street-connected children, neglect, abuse, exploitation, sexual and gender-based violence, child marriage, child labour, trafficking, and online abuse, which were compounded by climate change.

“The World Health Organization estimated that 88 percent of the existing global burden of disease caused by climate change affects children under five years of age. They are physically more vulnerable to climate-related health issues, with urban children particularly susceptible to lower air quality and overcrowding.”

She noted that despite the vulnerability of children, their voices often remain unheard in global climate discussions, adding that government remained dedicated to safeguarding children.

Mr Fiachra McAsey, Deputy Country Representative, UNICEF, said there was the need for increased investment in strengthening and adapting essential social services to protect children and families.

He said it included necessary family support, resources, and resilience-building measures to help children navigate and mitigate their increased vulnerability resulting from the climate crisis.

He said the day was to remind everyone of their commitment and common responsibility to protect children and support families, saying, the collective efforts of all, dedicated to strengthening families in Ghana, was a critical foundation for the well-being of all children.

Ghana also face numerous more frequently occurring climate-related crisis, which has exacerbated child protection concerns, including higher risks of displacement, family separation, lack of privacy and safety, and psychosocial distress.

Mr McAsey said children and young people across the globe were raising their voices and demanding urgent action to address the climate crisis and to protect their collective future, and “it is imperative that we listen to their concerns and prioritize their inclusion in climate action-related discussions and initiatives.”

He added that even though several related initiatives were underway to collect and amplify the voices of young people on climate action, increased efforts were also needed to effectively empower younger children and adolescents with more development opportunities, education and skills to be champions for their environment.

He assured that his outfit was committed to working with the ministry, and development partners to strengthen family resiliency and foster safe, nurturing environments in which children and young people could thrive and realize their fundamental rights to health and wellbeing.

By Hafsa Obeng, GNA

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