PRESS RELEASE: ‘Nurturing our young children is nurturing our planet’: UAE Ministry of Education hosts the DO MORE FOUNDATION (SA) and Capita (US) at UNFCCC COP28 panel to address intersection of young children and climate change.
22 Dec 2023
Young children (0 - 8 years) are one of the groups most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis, which is already having detrimental effects on their health, development, well-being, and school readiness. In response to this reality, the UAE’s Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), launched the Greening Education Hub at this year’s UNFCCC COP28 to position children’s early years as central to achieving sustainability globally.
The Hub brings together experts, educators, policymakers, and stakeholders from the early childhood development (ECD) and climate fields to discuss strategies and solutions for mitigating the adverse effects of climate change on young children's education.
On Wednesday 06 December Warren Farrer and Joe Waters, CEOs of DO MORE FOUNDATION (founded by RCL FOODS) and Capita respectively, participated in a multi-sectoral *panel discussion addressing the intersecting challenges and solutions of climate change, early childhood education, and school readiness.
Capita is an independent, nonpartisan think tank with a global focus. Their purpose is to build a future in which all children and families flourish. CEO Joe Waters, “Climate change is not a separate issue, it is the context we are all living in today and it poses a multifaceted threat to young children and families globally. We are working to put young children and families at the center of the world’s climate change strategies, funding, and response plans.”
Africa’s young children are at high to extreme risk from climate change.
Low-income countries are often the most susceptible to climate change and lack the resources to adapt to its effects. The UNICEF report Time to Act: African Children in the Climate Change Spotlight, found that children in 48 of the 49 African countries for which data are available are at ‘high’ or ‘extremely high’ risk from the extreme weather, illnesses, pollution, and environmental degradation caused by climate change.
“It is clear that the youngest members of African society are bearing the brunt of the harsh effects of climate change,” Lieke van de Wiel, Deputy Director of UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa region. “They are the least able to cope, due to physiological vulnerability and poor access to essential social services. We need to see a stronger focus of funding towards this group, so they are equipped to face a lifetime of climate-induced disruptions.”
According to UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index, South Africa is at medium to high risk of climate and environmental shocks and childhood vulnerability to these. Already 27% of South Africa’s children under the age of 5 are stunted (impaired growth and development) due to poor nutrition, inadequate early learning and stimulation, and lack of parent/caregiver support at home.
Lack of food and under-nutrition are strongly linked to hot climates and water scarcity in the sub-Saharan region which means the long-term effects of stunting will only increase with climate change.
Capita and the DO MORE FOUNDATION announce collaboration on climate action for South Africa’s young children.
During Wednesday’s Climate Change, Early Childhood Education, and School Readiness session, panelists discussed the importance of designing climate resilient early education and childcare programmes alongside safe, nurturing environments that support holistic ECD. Key to making this happen is strong collective action that develops and delivers child-centered solutions, particularly in those countries and communities facing the greatest climate change risks.
As a ‘backbone organisation’, the DO MORE FOUNDATION has witnessed first-hand the immense value for community development in South Africa resulting from collaboration between the public, private and non-profit sectors.
“We're not just protecting young children against the impact of climate change; we're recognising their value as contributors to resilient societies”, Warren Farrer, CEO of DO MORE FOUNDATION. “By focusing on their unique needs in climate action, we transform young children from being vulnerable to becoming essential contributors, shaping a prosperous future with thriving communities and sustained socio-economic progress for South Africa”.
This intention forms the foundation of an exciting new initiative being championed by the DO MORE FOUNDATION and Capita. Due to launch in early 2024, the South African Early Childhood Climate Action Coalition (working title) aims to connect communities, various spheres of government, NPO/NGOs, business, research institutes and other interested parties to catalyse the support of young children and their families in the context of climate change.
The Coalition will also develop an Early Years Climate Action Plan which will provide a roadmap with potential solutions that can be embedded across society. In 2023, Capita supported the launch of the US Early Years Climate Action Plan, the first of its kind in the world.
Capita CEO Joe Waters, “Climate change does not merely impact the future today’s children will inherit; it is a problem and an opportunity here and now. Healthy, resilient children and families are the foundation of healthy, resilient communities. Ensuring child-centered action on climate change will create cleaner air and water, more green space and shade, healthier buildings, communities better prepared for extreme weather events, and much more: all benefits that ripple out far beyond the individual child and family.”
*Full list of panelists: ARNEC - Peck Gee Chua, ECD-Climate Advisor
Capita - Joe Waters, CEO and Founder
Do More Foundation - Warren Farrer, CEO and Founder
Low Income Investment Fund - Angie Garling, Vice President of Early Care and Education UAE Prime Minister's Office - Fuzan AlKhalidi, Director of Health, Education and Community Development Affairs