6 June 2024

The latest impact assessment report from UNICEF reveals that Children living in the northeastern and southern areas of Thailand are at a high risk of their health development and well-being being affected by climate change and environmental hazards, especially in the provinces of Ubon Ratchathani, Nakhon Ratchasima, Sri Sa Ket, Nakhon Sri Thammarat and Narathiwat.

The study, which examines various demographics, such as location, income, disability and age, shows that the primary climate hazards affecting children are floods, droughts and heat waves. The children, whose immune systems are far more susceptible to climate disasters and health risks, might suffer from water contamination, food insecurity and the spread of diseases.

The climate danger does not, however, only damage children’s health and development. Kyungsun Kim, the UNICEF Representative for Thailand, also warns that, if this issue remains unresolved, children will be exposed to more risk in other areas of life and well-being as well.

“These climate and environmental hazards increase children’s vulnerability to diseases and disrupts their access to education, essential services and food supplies. This can lead to illnesses, malnutrition, stress, anxiety and even death and creates lifelong damage to children’s development and well-being. In other words, it robs them of their future and, yet, this crucial child rights issue is not getting the attention or the action it deserves.”

As Thailand is ranked 50th out of 163 countries in 2021 where children are the most at risk from the results of climate change, the most vulnerable groups are disproportionately likely to bear the cost of health and development risks caused by environmental degradation. It is anticipated that, if no systematic and serious effort is made soon, Thai children will be suffer from intense heatwaves by 2050.

To help the government, civil society and businesses are focusing on mitigating the perils of environmental damage. UNICEF recommends actions including child sensitive climate change policies and promoting awareness and education for children in handling the risks created by climate change, namely:

  • Ensure that the climate change policies are child sensitive. Policies must take into consideration the needs of children and young people and include measures that protect them from the impact of climate hazards.
  • Promote awareness, knowledge and skills related to climate change and protection of the environment among children, including out-of-school children, so they can better understand how they are affected, how they can protect themselves and take climate action.
  • Strengthen climate resilience in high-risk communities by equipping them with knowledge and skills to adapt to climate change, supporting their preparation for, prevention of and response to climate hazards and providing an effective and timely early warning system which everyone, including the most vulnerable children, can easily access and follow.
  • Create platforms where children and young people can participate and exchange ideas on how to prevent and respond to climate change and protect the environment in their communities.

In 2023, the Committee on the Rights of the Child aims to create common grounds for governments to endorse and sustain children’s rights affected by environmental crises. Kyungsun Kim states that informed approaches and serious commitment to every child’s rights, especially the vulnerable ones, are urgently required to save the lives and futures of the next generation.