Act to Adapt - Child Centred Climate Change Adaptation Project in Asia and the Pacific

Published: 25th February 2014 5:38Last Updated: 9th November 2016 3:38
Act to Adapt - 4CA Project film
children action on climate change

Project background

Children’s rights are at the centre of Plan International's climate change work. This includes work on adaptation for children, in delivering child-sensitive adaptation projects, and adaptation with children, which ensures children’s active participation in the design and implementation of adaptation projects.

Plan International's Child Centred Climate Change Adaptation (4CA) is a regional project being implemented since 2011 in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. It aims to build the awareness of children and their communities about climate change and to empower them to be active participants in adaptation efforts.

This involves the translation of relatively new and complex climate science concepts into real life practice using the tools, techniques and knowledge of local communities.

Adaptation challenge

The impacts of climate change are already affecting communities across the world, especially in Asia and the Pacific. According to the United Nations University, seven of the world’s ten countries most vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters are in Asia and the Pacific. The region accounted for 65% of the world’s deaths caused by natural disasters in the last decade. Extreme weather events displaced more than 42 million people in the Asia-Pacific region during 2010 and 2011 and affected on average more than 200 million people annually in the last decade.

Climate models indicate expected temperature increases in Asia and the Pacific between 0.5 and 2°C by 2030. In the southern Philippines, the World Bank reports that warmer water temperatures and habitat destruction could lead to a 50% decrease in ocean fish catches.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that the number of people living in cities in Asia at risk of coastal flooding will increase from 300 to 410 million by 2025. A 30 centimetre sea level rise in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, a global rice producing area, could see the loss of around 11% of crop production and subsequent rises in food prices.

The ability of communities and nations to adapt to change is crucial, as the frequency, intensity and dangerousness of climate change-related events escalate. Children in Asia and the Pacific will be at the forefront of these changes. We must empower children and young people to lead and participate in their communities’ efforts to adapt to an increasingly fast-changing world.

Climate change adaptation programming for and with children

Children’s rights are at the centre of Plan’s climate change work. This includes work on adaptation for children, in delivering child-sensitive adaptation projects, and adaptation with children, which ensures children’s active participation in the design and implementation of adaptation projects.

It is an innovative approach to climate change adaptation that fosters the agency of children and young people. Each community designs and implements unique projects that explore how and why things are changing, the impact this might have on children’s rights, and gets adults talking to and learning from children on finding the best roles for children to play in community resilience. The overall goal is to achieve safe and resilient communities in which children and young people contribute to managing and reducing the risks associated with climate change.

The regional 4CA program has been implemented in six countries in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines; and in six countries in the Pacific: Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu. It is funded by Australian aid (DFAT) through the Humanitarian Partnership Agreement and the Australian Aid NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). It is now being scaled up in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines until 2018 with support from Plan International Germany and the German Ministry of Environment under the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

Why children?

Children are often more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change than adults, but they are also more than passive victims. As powerful and engaged members of any community, it is essential that girls and boys actively participate and contribute to decisions and planning around climate change.

Climate-related disasters often have disproportionate impacts on children, with serious implications for securing their human rights. Despite children’s right to participate in decisions that affect them, they are often excluded from the decision making process.

In 20, 30, 40 and 50 years’ time, it will be these children and their own families who will be affected by the decisions made today. By supporting children now to explore the issue of climate change, they will be better placed to face the challenge in the future.

What are the results to date?

The various 4CA projects are ensuring the meaningful participation of children. Children have been involved in documenting and monitoring community activity through video documentaries,working together with adults in the implementation of small grants projects, and in climate change adaptation advocacy at national and regional levels.

Children are developing the confidence and self-esteem to act as leaders and pioneers of change in their community. There are already significant changes at the community level. Opportunities for communities and children to learn about and build their capacity around climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction are multiplying. Children and young people understand what is at stake for this generation and future generations not just in their community, but also for their country and region as a whole.

Education materials developed are being adopted and taken up by other organisations, government agencies and countries, multiplying the reach and impact of the program. The national government of each of the four countries has acknowledged the 4CA approach, which will help ensure its continuation and uptake.

What are we learning?

Focus on local impacts. Empower children and communities to identify and map the changes in risks and livelihoods. Don’t start by talking about what is climate change with children. First, talk about how disasters and environmental changes are affecting them now, what is changing in their communities. Building on a basic understanding of how human activities and environment are interlinked, begin introducing the bigger picture of climate change.

The key is to link children with project activities. Each country is taking a different path to involving children, and identifying what the best path is for finding meaningful roles for children in their community. They can become local champions for change.

Climate change is an intergenerational issue. Adults and policymakers often focus on the now. We need to bring in the perspective of children, who are always looking into the future. In the dialogue of advocacy and change, that is a huge added value that children can bring to the table.

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