Young children aged 0-6 are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. But they are also the most valuable group in the fight against it. Supporting young children is a smart investment and should be placed at the forefront of climate resilience action.
Why invest in early childhood development as part of climate resilience action
Young children, especially from vulnerable communities, are more affected by climate change and large-scale environmental degradation than any other group.
Nurturing care for young children is adversely affected by air pollution, disease, forced migration and extreme weather events like heat waves, flooding and drought, all of which create toxic stress disrupting children’s brain development, long-term physical and mental health, and cognitive abilities.
The Asia-Pacific region is particularly high risk for young children due to climate change. Despite all this, climate change policies and financing mechanisms frequently overlook the needs and risks of infants and young children
Our Initiative in the Asia-Pacific region
The Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC) and its partners commit to building and sharing evidence, knowledge, and learning to advocate for policy and investment for clean, safe, and sustainable environments for young children at the country and regional levels.
Systems and services for young children need to become more climate resilient, adequately funded, and their value better understood by policy makers and climate scientists through:
Adaptation and resilience: ECD systems need to become climate-sensitive, better integrated, and adequately funded to support nurturing care services and help buffer young children and their families from the impact of climate change.
Mitigation: Well-financed, high quality, and equitable early childhood programmes provide a cost-effective, comprehensive, immediate, and enduring path to achieving the SDGs.
By increasing climate knowledge in ECD settings and building strong relations between policy makers and the climate science community, we can realise the full potential that early-years development has in addressing the effects of climate change. We will soon release the scoping study on ECD and climate change informing our regional strategy, prioritising actions at home, and in the community and schools, as well as in programs and policies.
ARNEC has formed an alliance with UNICEF EAPRO and Save the Children International to support ECD and climate resilience in the region. We continue working with global and other regional ECD networks (ECDAN, ISSA, ANECD, AfECN) to support inter-regional advocacy and connect stakeholders. By building partnerships within and across regions and sectors, we create a global movement for ECD and climate resilience.
Check out our recent and upcoming resources below for more information, and watch out for our new and improved Community of practice coming in 2023!
Our actions today shape our children’s future.
ARNEC in partnership with Save the Children and UNICEF EAPRO has embarked on a scoping study led by the University of Wollongong to inform its advocacy for ensuring a clean, safe, and sustainable environment for young children.
This edition of ARNEC Connections discuss the state of environmental health and the impacts on young children and ECD.
There are practical pathways at different levels for making children at the centre of climate action.
Mechanisms for prioritising young children’s needs and voices through their caregivers need to be put in place to make national resilience actions inclusive.