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Indian children demand climate action from parliamentarians

"We pledge to our children that we in our actions are committed to being environmentally responsible and prudent in resource actualisation," said Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani

By: Parenting Desk | New Delhi | November 22, 2020 8:05:23 pm
climate change, climate change activists, Indian children, parliamentarians, UNICEF, World Children's Day, parenting, indian express newsOur children are at tremendous risk due to climate change and as policymakers, leaders, upstanding members of the society, parents and grandparents, it is only us, who can come to their rescue, said Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu. (File photo)

Climate change is real. It is something that activists have been highlighting for many years now, pressing global bodies into taking appropriate actions to contain the damage. On the occasion of the World Children’s Day on November 20, UNICEF in partnership with the Parliamentarians’ Group for Children (PGC) organised a Climate Parliament with children, in the presence of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani, and 30 MPs.

Nearly 150 children of different groups participated in the seminar, where they discussed the impact of climate change with the parliamentarians and presented an eight-point ‘Charter of Demands’ on climate action. Around 7,000 children were involved in the process, which was supported by Civil Society Organization networks across the country.

In his keynote address, the Vice President said: “India and the world finds itself at a pivotal juncture. Our children are at tremendous risk due to climate change and as policymakers, leaders, upstanding members of the society, parents and grandparents, it is only us, who can come to their rescue. We cannot let apathy jeopardise our children’s future.”

“Child rights should be interwoven into key national climate change strategies, policies and planning documents. It is our response to climate change that needs to include a child centric approach that can be done through such platforms.”

On her part, Smriti Irani pointed out that it is “wonderful” to “see such informed representation from children coming together” to discuss the impact of climate change and “working to dedicate ourselves to create an environmentally conscious future”. “We pledge to our children that we in our actions are committed to being environmentally responsible and prudent in resource actualisation,” she said.

Also present on the panel was UNICEF India representative Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, who said: “Millions of children around India are facing difficult times. Today, we want to bring into focus the urgency for the pandemic recovery to be child-centric, green and sustainable. Children are among the major stakeholders in the debate on climate change. It is important for them to be a part of the solution to one of the greatest challenges faced by humanity today.”

“Child rights should be explicitly integrated into key national climate change and adaptation strategies, policies and planning documents. By including children and young as protagonists of climate policies, we can devise solutions that will be implemented in the years and decades to come. This ownership is essential in transforming such practices into behavioural and social norms,” offered Vandana Chavan, the convenor of PGC.

The Charter of Demands on climate change, included the following key points:

* Greener public transportation options.
* Greater awareness in schools and communities.
* Clean environments and access to safe hygiene services.
* Investing in research to study the intersection of climate change and public health in India.
* Ban of single-use plastics.
* Stronger enforcement by local governance bodies.
* Funding and prioritization of afforestation efforts.
* Bridging the digital divide to ensure equal opportunity for education and towards building a climate movement.

You can watch the entire seminar here:

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