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Thomson Reuters
Youth Perspectives

Children take the lead in building community resilience to disasters

Children from Africa, Asia and Europe led an interactive session today on building community resilience to disasters at the 2013 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.

In an effort to bring children’s voices to the forefront of the global discussion on disaster risk reduction, the panel’s children and young adults told leaders gathered in Geneva what needs to be done to keep children safe during disasters, while also discussing what can be done to make their communities more resilient to the effects of disasters.

Why now? Children make up more than half the population in countries predicted to be most affected by climate change and are facing increasing impacts from tumultuous events. It is estimated that as many as 175 million children a year will soon be affected by disasters.

Disasters are increasing in frequency. Climate change is making communities and families around the world more vulnerable to disasters, particularly women and children who are 14 times more likely to die in a disaster than men. The number of children affected by disasters in the 1990s was an estimated 66.5 million per year, but over the next decade that number is expected to climb to 175 million.

In an auditorium packed with government and community leaders from around the world, the panel’s young people seized the opportunity to put the interests of children at the forefront of global discussion on disaster risk reduction.

“Young people may be the most vulnerable but we are innovative and have a great capacity to deal with change, if equipped with adequate information and resources,” said Cressida Mawdesley-Thomas, 18-year-old youth campaigner and peer educator on climate change with UNICEF since 2009. “Children and young people must be empowered on an international, national and community level. It is only right that children and young people are recognised as key stakeholders within discussions on DRR.”

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