Priotising climate change as a driver of violence against children, including child marriage and child labour as the top agenda, Visionaries speakers event has taken place with experts from around the world on Wednesday.
Experts took to the floor to shed light on links between climate change and violence against children at the event hosted by Unicef, World Vision and the International Union for Conservation of Nature at the InterContinental Dhaka.
While speaking regarding the top agenda, Unicef Representative to Bangladesh Sheldon Yett said, "Children are at the frontlines of the climate crisis. The most vulnerable are forced into overcrowded city slums where they often take on hazardous work to survive and are at greater risk for child marriage or sex work."
According to a press statement issued on Wednesday, Unicef's Children's Climate Risk Index, which looks at how exposed children are to climate and environmental shocks, ranks Bangladesh 15 out of 163 countries.
Children in Bangladesh are not responsible for climate change, yet they are paying the highest price for it. One in three children in Bangladesh, nearly 20 million children in total, are victims of extreme weather, floods, river erosion, sea level rise and other environmental shocks driven by climate change. Many of these children end up adrift in city slums, their health and educational prospects shattered. Millions are trapped in exploitative child labour, child marriage and trafficking, the press statement added.
Suresh Bartlett, national director, World Vision Bangladesh, said, "Children and adolescents are crucial agents of change in the global fight against climate change, and at World Vision, we believe that involving them in solutions will generate positive results. We also believe that greater collaborations across diverse stakeholders are required to generate solutions for climate issues that can have lasting results."
During the discussion, the experts also explored ways to protect children's well-being and safety – and to ensure that young people's voices are heard – in the response to climate change.
Raquibul Amin, country representative of International Union for Conservation of Nature in Bangladesh, said, "Environmental degradation is a driver of gender-based violence. Resource scarcity, conflicts and displacement caused by environmental degradation and climate change affect hard-won development gains and place vulnerable groups like women and children in a more disadvantaged position. Ending gender-based violence and securing environmental sustainability will help us achieve the interlinked global goals."
"Adequate funding, awareness and training will help youths make the right choice to protect themselves from risks and impacts of climate change," Md Alamgir Kabir, youth activist from World Vision Child and Youth Forums, said while participating in the discussion.
Dora Platevic from USAID Bangladesh spoke on "Towards Resilient Futures: Let Youth Lead the Way" whereas Jahin Shams Sakkar from Uttaran delivered speech on "A Youth-Led Adaptation Strategy to Save Bangladesh's Tidal Rivers."
Jose Amaya of Gildan Activewear Inc; Md Alamgir Kabir of World Vision Child & Youth Forums; Mohammad Shah Alam of Sesame Workshop; Natalie McCauley of Unicef Bangladesh; Sofia Canovas of United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), Cox's Bazar;
Syed Tamjid Ur Rahman of Winrock; Syeda Rizwana Hasan of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association; Towfiq Khan of Centre for Policy Dialogue were also present as speakers at the event.