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Mothers make heart-felt plea to leaders to put Kids First at COP27 climate summit

Children and those yet to be born are bearing the brunt of a crisis they didn’t cause, mothers say

Mothers from Our Kids’ Climate and Parents For Future Global – two networks uniting parents to act on climate – today (10 November 2022) made a heart-felt plea to world leaders to put children’s health, rights and futures at the heart of the COP27 climate summit.

The delegation of mothers say children and those yet to be born are bearing the brunt of a crisis they didn’t cause, and this is a grave injustice. Today on Youth and Future Generations Day at COP27 (Thursday 10 November), the mothers released a powerful film to bring children’s voices, hopes and needs into the heart of the climate change negotiations.

One billion children today are extremely vulnerable to climate disasters, especially those in the Global South. Over 90 percent of children worldwide are breathing polluted air. The key driver of this is the burning of fossil fuels – and yet governments and corporations are continuing to explore for new fossil fuels in defiance of the science and the warnings of the International Energy Agency.

Xoli Fuyani, mother from South Africa and an organizer with international parent network Our Kids’ Climate, and South African group Black Girls Rising, said:

“We’re amplifying the voices of the children because this is their future. They are the ones that will inherit this world and we should be asking ourselves what kind of world we are leaving behind. In the Global South, in marginalized communities, we are experiencing ever more intense climate impacts now. Our children are bearing the brunt of a crisis they did nothing to cause – can there be a greater injustice? The longer leaders delay the action required, the worse the impact on the next generation will be. It’s time to put kids first!”

The mothers’ film features children from sixteen counties aged 3 to 16, giving a voice to the youngest children whose words are often missing in climate change discussions.

In the film, Fernando, an eleven year old from the Solomon Islands, tells world leaders: “I am sending this message because I am worried. We are living on a small island in the Pacific. So if you all don’t fix the problem of climate change. One day we won’t have any place to stay.”

As world leaders gather at COP27, multiple climate and air pollution impacts are harming children right now. Over two months on from the floods in Pakistan, schools for more than two million children remain completely inaccessible. At least ten million children in the Horn of Africa are impacted by climate related drought. In Nigeria, 1.5 million children are at risk of disease and malnutrition because of the country’s widespread floods. In Delhi in India, schools were forced to close just last week because of the city’s toxic air.

Bhavreen Kandhari, the co-founder of Warrior Moms in India, a network of Indian mothers pushing for clean air said:

“What is the most important thing to a parent? To keep your child safe and healthy and to give them a good future. How does that happen in the midst of a climate and pollution crisis? In Delhi, our air is polluted because of the burning of fossil fuels. Every child is a smoker as soon as they’re born. Schools shut down in Delhi last week because of the toxic air. In May, they closed early because of the heat. What kind of world are we creating for our children? Droughts, floods, heat waves will only get worse, harming children most of all. We must phase out fossil fuels and move at pace to clean energy. This is the only way to protect children’s health now and safeguard their futures.”

The mothers called on rich countries to provide adequate finance for a just transition, adaptation and loss and damage to help communities and families already bearing the brunt of climate change.

Maya Mailer, the Co-Director of Our Kids’ Climate and co-founder of UK group Mothers Rise Up said:

“Governments and corporations are continuing to explore for new fossil fuels in defiance of science. In the UK, oil giants like Shell and BP are making record profits as our planet burns. Children are suffering and dying – and countries who have done the least to contribute to carbon pollution are bearing the brunt. From any early age, we teach our children the values of fairness and compassion – and yet those values are missing from the international response to the climate crisis. COP27 needs to change that. We need to give the world’s kids a fighting chance: this means a rapid transition to life-saving renewable energy and rich countries like mine finally making good on their promises of climate finance.”

Dr Maria Neira from the World Health Organization, who joined the mothers for the launch said:

“World leaders better watch out. The mothers are coming and they care about their children’s health and futures passionately. We have to move to clean energy as quickly as possible. Our children’s health and futures demand nothing less.”

The mothers were also joined by a delegation of children under 17 from different regions supported to attend COP27 by the High Level Champions.

Notes to editor:

The Kids First film is available here:

The film features children from sixteen counties – Australia, Brazil, Botswana, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, South Africa, the Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Togo, the UK and the USA.

The Our Kids’ Climate and Parents For Future Global are available for interviews throughout COP27. Find bios and further information about the delegation here.

The UN High Level Climate Champions supported a delegation of seven children under the age of 17, from different regions to attend COP27. Children from this delegation will be taking part in the press conference. The delegation includes: Genia (12, Torres Strait Australia), Sofia (13, Dominican Republic), Melissa (13, Ghana), Francisco (13, Colombia), Raven (12, Libya), Ismail (17, Egypt) and Yerazik (17, Armenia).

At COP26, a mothers delegation met with COP26 President Alok Sharma and handed him a powerful letter signed by 500 parent groups from 44 countries calling for the end of new fossil fuels for the sake of their children’s health and their futures.

Parents also launched a letter in support of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty in June this year at Stockholm +50.

Please contact Rebecca Wynn (rebecca@ourkidsclimate.org or + 44 7779 618197 ) or Juliana Russar (juliana@ourkidsclimate.org or whatsapp +5511999344949) for interviews with the mothers delegation.

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