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29 November 2023

Thousands of people will today start to gather in Dubai for the start of COP28 – the UN Climate Change Conference, which brings together leaders in climate from governments, business, civil society organisations and UN agencies.

A delegation from UNICEF Australia will attend the conference to advocate for - and with - children and young people, who are disproportionately vulnerable to pollution, climate-related diseases and extreme weather. 

Head of the UNICEF Australia delegation, Philippa Lysaght says: “At COP28, UNICEF Australia is calling for climate leaders, including Australia, to put the rights of children at the centre of decisions being made, so their unique needs and rights are factored in all aspects of climate action. 

“Climate change is changing childhood. For years, the world has watched the devastation resulting from climate-related disasters like bushfires and floods. Children in the East Asia Pacific region experience sixfold increase in climate disasters today compared to their grandparents 50 years ago. 

“To keep warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, countries around the world must make progress towards more ambitious emissions reductions targets. We need countries like Australia to stay on track and to take urgent action, prioritising the needs and perspectives of children who are not responsible for this crisis but bear the brunt of its impacts. 

“UNICEF Australia is calling on climate leaders to protect the lives, health and wellbeing of children and empower every child with opportunities, education and skills to be champions for the environment and reduce emissions – fulfilling international sustainability and climate agreements. 

"Wealthy countries are among the top emitters of greenhouse gases. We want to see countries, including Australia, support and operationalise a Loss and Damage Fund, which will help pay for damages for countries that are most impacted by climate change and improve the lives of vulnerable children. 

“This a critical opportunity to come together with climate leaders from around the world to work with leaders across government, business and the community to change course and to do it for children – strengthening their voices and helping them deal with a crisis they have not created.” 

COP28 - the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference - will run from 30 November – 12 December 2023 in Dubai, where UNICEF Australia will be speaking and raising the voices of young people. Thirty years after the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed, children’s needs, rights and perspectives are largely absent from climate policy. COP28 is a chance to put this right and put children at the heart of negotiations, outcomes and ensure their needs and rights are considered in all aspects of climate action.