Six ways we can make Loss and Damage finance work for children

Six ways we can make Loss and Damage finance work for children | Climate change is hurting kids. Here is how we can address the harm

By Lucy Szaboova and Cristina Colón
26 / 03 / 2024
Children should be included as experts in their own right in discussions and decisions concerning action on loss and damage, because they are already suffering from its consequences. Photo credit: UNICEF/UN0792949/Andrianandrasana

Climate change is already with us. The world is feeling its impacts every day, and none so more than the most vulnerable people in the world – children. The world’s most marginalized children are suffering displacement, malnutrition, the loss of education, the destruction of traditional ways of life and even death.

Some of these destructive impacts cannot be reversed and cannot be avoided through mitigation, like avoiding and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or adaptation, like adjusting to current and future climate change impacts.

These kinds of losses and damages hamper the rights of children, including the rights to survive and thrive, to protection, to clean water and food, to education and health, and to cultural heritage and Indigenous knowledge, and they undermine children’s well-being and future resilience.

In 2022, nations agreed to establish the Loss and Damage Fund (L&D Fund) to channel finances to those who are most affected by climate-related loss and damage. This is an opportunity to learn from past experiences of financing climate action, which have largely overlooked children. To date, less than 2.4 percent of climate finance has gone towards projects with child-responsive activities. But many questions remain about the practicalities of implementing the Fund and more work needs to be done to ensure that loss and damage funding reaches children and their families.

As discussions about defining a new global goal for climate finance and implementing the L&D Fund unfold, children’s rights, voices and priorities must be at the heart of these.

UNICEF and partners propose six key recommendations for a child-responsive loss and damage finance that should guide these discussions:

Put child rights at the heart of loss and damage finance

Child rights, as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, should be at the core of all loss and damage financing decisions. All proposed loss and damage finance mechanisms, policies, budgets, and administrative decisions should also undergo child-rights impact assessments, to make sure that they have the best interest of children at their heart and do not undermine children’s rights and well-being.

Meaningfully engage children in the funding process

Children should play an active role in the design, implementation, monitoring, and overall governance of the L&D Fund. They should be included as experts in their own right in discussions and decisions concerning action on loss and damage, because they are already suffering from its consequences. To enable their full and informed participation, children should have access to information on loss and damage that is appropriate for their age, gender, and ability.

Consider children's specific needs and vulnerabilities

The policies and guidelines of loss and damage finance mechanisms should explicitly consider children’s capacities and intersecting vulnerabilities, such as child poverty and inequality. They should recognize that these are experienced differently by different groups of children. Children’s self-identified needs and priorities should also be eligible for loss and damage funding.

Provide accessible funding for children and their families

Loss and damage funding should be made available locally and should address children’s context-specific climate vulnerabilities. Funding allocation guidance and criteria should be shared in local languages and through culturally appropriate channels to ensure that children and their organizations have direct access to funding. Organisations working with children and their families, such as NGOs, Indigenous People’s organisations and implementing agencies, can also act as intermediaries to support children’s access to loss and damage funding.

Maintain accountability and ensure children’s access to justice

Children and children’s organizations must have access to effective grievance mechanisms and remedies if the activities of the L&D Fund or of other loss and damage financing violate children’s rights. Remedies may include resources to support the education, health, protection, and social protection of children affected by loss and damage. Loss and damage finance mechanisms should be transparent and should enable recipients to hold financial contributors and implementers accountable.

Rebuild and recover essential services for children

Significant sums of money for loss and damage should be directed at child-critical social services - including education, health, nutrition, child protection, social protection, and water, sanitation, and hygiene - to protect the most vulnerable children in high-risk locations and strengthen their resilience. Loss and damage finance should enable flexible and portable services that also meet the needs of children on the move in the context of climate change.

To achieve these ambitions, the L&D Fund and loss and damage finance should be recognized as the third pillar of climate action, alongside mitigation and adaptation; it should be grant-based and not deepen the debt-burden of climate-vulnerable countries; and it should prioritize the most vulnerable and marginalized groups and strengthen their resilience.

This article was first published by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and has been republished with kind permission.