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Children on climate change frontline denied a voice, says NGO

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CHILDREN already struggling to adapt to severe, unpredictable weather and environmental disasters are being denied a say in the climate change debate, says children's organisation Plan International.

Young people in developing countries are taking on more responsibility and initiatives to protect their homes and communities but are not being allowed to hold governments to account, Plan has found.

With two in five of the world's population under the age of 18, climate change is set to have a disproportionate impact upon children.

Plan says the impact can already be seen in some countries where it operates with shorter and unpredictable rainy seasons, severe typhoons, hurricanes and floods, long-lasting droughts, and repeatedly failed harvests.

Plan International's CEO Nigel Chapman said: "Extreme weather caused by global warming has the ability to undermine all the gains achieved in the areas of food security, water and sanitation, and the survival of young children.

"We have seen how a catalogue of disasters this year has damaged homes and livelihoods in many countries where we work, with children being the greatest victims."

Increasingly, young people are now being trained in how to practically deal with the results of such natural disasters- and how to protect their homes and build the resilience of their communities.

But not enough is being done says Mr Chapman, to support these children nor to allow them to have their say in climate change discussions.

"Children all over the world are now showing their interest, capacity and valuable role in strengthening resilience to climate risks. But adults are negotiating away the viability of the world they will live in without giving the next generation a place at the table.

"As one of the groups so drastically affected, their voice must be heard now - both on how their communities are being affected today and will be increasingly under threat in the future."

Plan is now calling for a number of actions at COP15 including:

- Children to be given access to dialogue and formal decision making mechanisms on climate change.

- Governments to invest more in education so the next generation knows more about managing the environment.

- Ensuring that National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) and other international, regional and national strategic plans on climate change protect and involve children.

- Emphasising the significance of children - in terms of impact and 'agency' - within the 5th IPCC Assessment Report

Beatrice, 13, from Kithyoko, Kenya, is one of a number of young reporters who will be attending COP 15 with Plan.

"Climate change is affecting my community directly," she says, "I am looking forward to the day when all the people will understand better use of resources and change the climate for better. We are the future leaders and if we understand the effects of climate change now, later in life we can save our countries.

ENDS

Notes for Editor

- 8 Young reporters trained in media skills by Plan will be attending and taking part in COP 15 including from Kenya and Indonesia between December 12th and 19th. The young press team will interview national delegates, representatives from the "The Elders", from IASC agencies, and from UN bodies and other organisations.

- Plan is also attending as a member of the Children in a Changing Climate coalition, co-founded by Plan in 2007. Other coalition members include UNICEF, Save the Children, the Institute of Development Studies, and World Vision. The coalition will hold a side event on Tuesday December 15th on the value of children's participation.

To arrange press interviews in Copenhagen contact: Stuart Coles +44 (0)7500 066891 stuart.coles@plan-international.org or Alistair Clay +44 (0)7919 574180 alistair.clay@plan-international.org

Children on the frontline of climate change - Plan Case studies:

Floods - El Salvador,- brigades of young people trained in disaster risk reduction (DRR) sound the alarm a full 2 hours before the national government - saving all but one person in their community (the previous year 11 people died).

Landslide - Philippines - DRR- trained teenage boy in the Philippines spots cracks in his school and convinces authorities to move the whole building, saving it from imminent landslide threat.

Droughts & floods - Cambodia - children help create plan for a new canal to improve irrigation & steady water supply to their communities and surrounding rice fields.

Forest fires - Sierra Leone - women & children work to mobilize communities & farms ravaged by dry season wildfires - establishing nurseries of fast-growing trees; creating fire belts & warning of the risks of logging for charcoal burning.

ENDS

Plan is an international, child centred development organisation without religious, political or governmental affiliation. Child sponsorship is the basic foundation of the organisation. www.plan-international.org

Claire Diamond
Press Officer
Plan International Headquarters
Direct Line: +44-1483-733-330
Mobile: +4477-480-56063