This background paper Children on the Move: Why, Where, How? shines a light on the plight of children on the move and to better understand how children and young people are affected by climate-related migration and displacement. The world is home to 2.3 billion children, with 29.3 per cent of the world population under 18 years old and 1.8 billion young people aged 10 to 24 years old the largest generation in history. A significant number of these children and youth live in areas vulnerable to climate impacts with, for instance, half a billion children living in extremely high flood occurrence zones and nearly 160 million children living in areas experiencing high or extremely high drought severity.In parallel, there is a growing awareness that the adverse impacts of climate change increasingly contribute directly and indirectly to temporary and permanent migration and displacement within countries and across borders. Migration in the context of climate change is often a multi-causal phenomenon, with multiple drivers intersecting to shape the decision to migrate. For this reason, it is difficult to estimate the exact number of people on the move due to climate impacts, including children.
Managing migration and addressing displacement of children and youth in the context of climate change is an immense challenge that remains to be fully tackled. If the international community is to deliver on the promise of Agenda 2030 to ‘leave no one behind’, it cannot afford to overlook the current and future consequences of adverse climate impacts on children on the move. The following recommendations have been developed to support States to address some of the specific child-related challenges linked to mobility and climate change:
- There is a need for an increased understanding of children’s specific situation regarding (im)mobility in the face of climate change.
- For children and youth who cannot or choose not to move, policies need to focus on offering dignified and aspirational opportunities that would help them adapt to climate impacts and remain in their places of origin.
- For children and youth who must or choose to move, better migration management is necessary to provide legal migration options rooted in rights-based approaches, as outlined in global commitments.
- Children and young people need to be included and heard in these conversations.