11 July 2024

Children and youth representatives from across Thailand recently gathered in Bangkok to mark the national launch of General Comment No. 26 (GC26), an important international document focusing on children’s rights and the environment that addresses the pressing issue of violence against children in the context of environmental crises and climate change.

Organized by the CRC Coalition Thailand, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, UNICEF Thailand and other organizations, the “Child Safe & Friendly Environment – Ending Violence Against Children: Environmental Safety” event provided a forum for discussions on climate change’s impact on children’s rights and the broader environment.

Kyungsun Kim, UNICEF Representative of Thailand, emphasized the crucial role of GC26 in highlighting the interconnection between environmental degradation, climate change, and children’s rights. She underscored the visible impacts of climate change on everyday life, particularly affecting vulnerable populations like children.

“The impact of climate change is here and very visible in Thailand. It can be seen in more frequent floods and droughts, and rising temperatures directly affecting everyday life, particularly for those in vulnerable situations like children,” she added.

Dr Boonchai Hongcharu, Chair of the Board of Directors of the World Vision Foundation, also drew attention to the alarming situation in Thailand, revealing that 48.6% of Thai children still experience violence within their families. Furthermore, Thailand ranks 9th globally in facing severe impacts from climate change, with Thai children placed 50th out of 163 countries on the Child Climate Risk Index.

The UNICEF Impact Assessment on Climate Change and Environmental Degradation on Children in Thailand identified children in Northeastern and Southern Thailand as the most at risk.

UNICEF Thailand called for priority to be given children’s rights protection and developing policies based on child rights principles. Anukul Peedkaew, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, stressed the importance of inter-ministerial collaboration, particularly with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The event also featured insights from attending youth. Krit Pachsuwan, a UNICEF Young People Advisory Board member, outlined three demands from relevant agencies: youth participation in future policy planning, financial support for innovations or initiatives against climate change, and a platform for cross-generational discussions on climate change issues.

Saknarin Kamthai, a former child in need of care and youth representative from the World Vision Foundation, urged a collective push for prioritizing children’s rights and environmental issues. He emphasized the importance of giving children and youth a role in shaping change and policy suggestions to ensure they grow up in a beautiful world.

By Thai PBS World Feature Desk

Photo Courtesy of UNICEF Thailand