New Delhi, Nov 20 (PTI) Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said child rights should to be interwoven into key national climate change and adaptation strategies, policies and planning documents.
Addressing an online webinar - 'Climate Parliament with Children' - organized by the 'Parliamentarians' Group for Children' and the UNICEF on the occasion of World Children's Day, Naidu called for involving children in the conversation around climate change.
He emphasised the need to raise awareness on climate change, its impacts and mitigation measures in schools and grassroots level to make the children change agents and transformational leaders of the future.
'Child rights should be interwoven into key national climate change and adaptation strategies, policies and planning documents. Our response to climate change needs to include a 'child-centric' approach. And to do this, the best way is through platforms like this,' Naidu said.
Stating a WHO data, Naidu said climate change will cause lakhs of additional deaths every year and majority of these deaths will occur among the children who are more susceptible to illness, injuries and malnutrition.
'Children (0-14 years) form a quarter of the world's population and they are one of the largest and most vulnerable groups that will be impacted by climate change,' he warned.
Describing the consequences of global warming such as increase in heat stress and vector-borne diseases, the vice president warned that changing climate will also threaten the world's food security leading to hunger and malnutrition. Children will be the worst affected, he added.
Specifically mentioning the impact of climate change and disasters on children, Naidu listed malnutrition, closure of schools, increase in child labour and psychological trauma as possible results.
'These conditions would be particularly severe in children living in poor and under-served areas,' he cautioned.
Stressing the need for sustainability, Naidu called for striking the necessary balance between development and environment. We have to preserve scarce resources and care for the generations to come, he said.
Reiterating the experts view that we only have a decade or so to influence the course of climate change before its adverse impacts become irreversible, the vice president called upon policymakers, leaders, parents and grandparents to collectively work to address this dire situation and usher a healthier environment for children.
'We cannot allow apathy or inaction to jeopardize our future,' he added.
Naidu also expressed concern over plastic pollution, especially in oceans, where nearly 50 per cent of single-use plastic products end up, killing marine life and entering the human food chain.
He asked everyone to support the prime minister's call for eradicating single-use plastic from the country by 2022.
Calling for building a safer world for the children, the vice president said climate change is a direct threat to a child's ability to survive, grow, and thrive.
'If you catch up with the children, you catch up with the society,' he said and cited the example of Swachh Bharat Mission where children are trying to bring the change.
'Our forefathers have given us great civilizational values such as 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam'', he said and called upon everyone to follow them. This value system should not be allowed to erode, he said.
Smriti Irani, Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Vandana Chavan, Convener of Parliamentarians' Group for Children, Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF representative for India, several MPs, child rights activists and children were among those who participated in the virtual event. PTI UZM TDS TDS