Hear The Calls of Young People on Climate Change

Salamata, a nine-year-old girl from Burkina Faso who sought refuge from fighting in a displacement camp, told us that since her family were displaced, she doesn’t get enough to eat.  “I only eat once during the day,” she told us. “I am often hungry. When I am hungry, I tell my mother. If she can, she gives me something to eat. If not, I go hungry”.

There will be millions of children just like Salamata who will go to bed hungry tonight. But it is rare that we really think about what this means. It means that the 45 million children under the age of five affected by wasting are at risk of dying or facing severe developmental problems that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

For girls, this may mean early marriage or pregnancy and an increased risk of being trafficked and falling victim to sexual exploitation and violence. Many will have to drop out of school, which will make it impossible for them to access decent employment in the future. This means perpetuating poverty, discrimination and lack of opportunities.

We live in an interconnected world, and never more so than when it comes to the global hunger crisis. Hunger is everybody’s business and while not every country is experiencing the same level of food insecurity, the number of hunger hotspots has reached unprecedented levels.

The leaders of Group of 20 countries recognize that the geopolitical situation, climate change, health crises, and the refugee crisis affect the stability of the world economy. In 2022, the global hunger crisis is also threatening the ambition of the G20 for a strong, balanced, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The world cannot wait to act.

We have been inspired by youth activists from the G20 and ASEAN countries who came together on Aug. 15 in Jakarta at an event convened by Plan International Indonesia and the Y20. These young people are the leaders of tomorrow but are also leading the way today by sharing their deep understanding of the challenges caused by the climate crisis and conflict that affect their access to food, water and jobs.

They have called on the global community to show solidarity with young people and children and called on their governments to show real commitment to increase the resilience and meaningful participation in facing such crises. We must heed their call.

The leaders of G20 countries have the power and influence to make a difference. As well as providing the critical humanitarian and climate financing needed to save lives now, we must work together to build long term resilience, so that we are better prepared to prevent hunger.

Investing in the resilience of young people, particularly young women and girls, not only saves lives but also protects girls from facing detrimental consequences that last a lifetime. Targeted investment is needed to equip girls and young women with the skills and knowledge needed to become resilient and adapt to a changing climate.

These young people are the leaders of tomorrow, but are also leading the way today, by sharing their deep understanding of the challenges in facing climate crisis that affect to their access to food, water, jobs. They have called on the global community to show solidarity to young people and children, and called on their governments to show real commitment to increase youth and children resilience and meaningful participation in facing such crisis.

We urge leaders of the G20 countries to take urgent diplomatic action to address the root causes of hunger – conflict and insecurity, economic crises and climate change. More must be done to protect girls and women from economic inequality, insecurity, violence, discrimination and a lack of access to food so that all people, without discrimination, have enough to eat.

Women and girls account for 70 percent of the world’s hungry. Any response, any investment, any funding, any decision must consider the unique implications that girls, because of their age and gender, face in this crisis. Hunger affects girls and women differently and when food is scarce, girls eat less and eat last and are the first to drop out of school or married at a young age.

Among other solutions, supporting school feeding programs have been proven to keep girls in school and less likely to face harmful practices such as forced marriage, early pregnancy or sexual exploitation.

Don’t be misled into thinking that the global hunger crisis is beyond our control. It is human-made and can be prevented. Hunger can be solved but time is running out. We must do everything we can to support Salamata and millions of girls like her around the world. The time for action is now.

Op-Ed by CEO of Plan International Stephen Omollo and Executive Director of Yayasan Plan International Indonesia Dini Widiastuti.

This article was published in thejakartapost.com with the title “Hear the calls of young people on climate change”. Click to read: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2022/09/13/hear-the-calls-of-young-people-on-climate-change.html?utm_campaign=os&utm_source=mobile&utm_medium=android&fbclid=IwAR10R1r2KDnFL0IWuVgY2sDJfK_ov_IGBXBGUEnrq1k9cyuKA22ueW4WXDI