Vice President Sara Duterte has expressed alarm over the climate crisis, which she said is affecting the lives, education and health of the children.
At the commemoration of the World Children's Day of UNICEF held in Quezon City Monday, Nov. 20, Duterte emphasized that "climate crisis is a child rights crisis."
She said that the rising sea levels, the harsh weather and air pollution as well as the resource scarcity have an impact on the children; and that "climate change is hitting Filipino kids hard."
"The Philippines receives 20 typhoons every year, causing flooding, landslides, and storm surges in high-risk areas. Our country also faces earthquakes and human-induced disasters like conflict, insurgency, and terrorism," she said.
"Just the other day, many parts of Mindanao were struck by an earthquake that claimed lives, damaged schools, destroyed infrastructure, toppled homes, and displaced communities," she added.
Citing the World Risk Index for 2022, the Vice President said the Philippines ranks first in disaster risk. And that exposes children to cyclones, floods and other climate-related hazards, which they are more likely to get injured, killed or displaced than adults, she added.
"From 2016 to 2021, an estimated 9.7 million Filipino children were displaced due to climate change-related events. These displacements cause increased diseases, respiratory illnesses, and long-term mental health issues among children," she said.
"Disasters force children to miss school, affecting their learning and future.
In rural communities where agriculture is the main industry, these calamities generate food shortages and malnutrition," she added.
To address this, Duterte said the government must invest in climate-resilient communities and infrastructure to shield children from climate change's severe effects.
"Along with other government and donor agencies, we must give our children and youth meaningful participation in fighting climate change," she added, highlighting that the role of adults is walking the talk.
The Vice President said that adults "have a crucial role to play in creating an enabling environment where children can thrive and contribute to a sustainable future."
"As adults, we must commit to walking the talk," she said.
That can be done by reducing the carbon footprint, living sustainably and promoting programs that encourage kids to improve their community's disaster resilience.
"We can create a national plan to engage children and youth in disaster risk reduction and climate action at the local and national levels by establishing children and youth groups, providing community education, training, learning exchanges, and lobbying and influencing policy," she said.
"The Philippines can lead by solving the climate crisis and protecting children's rights," she added.