UNICEF is elevating sustainability and climate change to the top of the global children’s agenda. Our 2023-2030 Sustainability and Climate Change Action Plan guides communities, governments, and global leaders to work together to prioritize children’s needs.

To deliver our Sustainability and Climate Action Plan promise, by 2030, UNICEF with partners, will aspire to touch the lives of 500 million children in 100 countries with integrated climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction solutions, before during and after disasters.

Through direct service delivery and capacity building by 2030, UNICEF and partners will aspire to support 30 million children in 100 countries with integrated climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction solutions.

UNICEF will enhance child resilience by assisting governments and communities with child-responsive and displacement-sensitive preparedness and early warning systems, as well as disaster resilient and inclusive WASH, health, education, social protection, nutrition, and child protection solutions as part of longer-term development and building back better in disaster recovery.

Specific activities to achieve this commitment include:

Building Resilience Today and Tomorrow: The world’s first integrated climate and disaster financing solution for children

There is an ever-widening finance gap for climate resilience and disaster risk reduction: US$315 – $565 billion by 2050.1 And solutions like ex-ante climate and disaster risk financing do not focus on children and young people, resulting in a huge climate change protection gap, especially for children in the most vulnerable countries. The world needs new, innovative approaches to resilience-building and protection for children, which UNICEF is committed to deliver.

Announced at COP27 UNICEF’s Today & Tomorrow Initiative is the world’s first integrated climate and disaster risk finance mechanism specifically targeted and designed for children. This climate financing solution uniquely combines climate resilience and risk prevention programmes “today” with an untraditional, innovative use of disaster risk transfer provided by the insurance market, that in turn, invests in extra protection for children against the impact of cyclones “tomorrow.” The unique combination of "Today & Tomorrow" provides “end-to-end” integrated climate change protection for children before, during and after cyclones.

With generous commitments to date from the UK FCDO and Germany BMZ, under the G7/V20 Global Shield against climate risks, UNICEF will be able to provide up to US$100 million in insurance coverage against tropical cyclones for 8 countries over 3 years. In less than a year, over US$3.9 million in Tomorrow insurance payouts has already been generated for 6 of the 8 pilot countries (Bangladesh, Fiji, Madagascar, Mozambique, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) affected by nine cyclones in 2023. These payout funds are being utilized to supplement immediate disaster response, as well as recovery and building back better efforts in partnership with governments, to protect children and communities from future shocks.

New partners are invited to work with us to drive investments that provide solutions across the full spectrum of resilience and response, including by seeking an additional $50 million for resilience building and to drive expansion. Every $1 invested in risk reduction and prevention can save up to US$15 in post-disaster recovery.2

Together, UNICEF and our partners will take this holistic risk financing solution to scale, reaching additional geographies and providing protection for children from other climate change exacerbated hazards, building Today and Tomorrow into a Global Child-focused Climate and Disaster Finance Platform for children.

UNICEF supporting Governments and communities to implement and adapt existing early warning systems and preparedness to be child responsive (contributing to the SG’s Early Warnings for All Initiative)

The Secretary General’s Early Warnings for All initiative calls for every person on Earth to be protected by early warning systems within five years. Half of countries globally are not protected by early warning systems, with the lowest coverage in Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries particularly for those living in coastal areas, urban slums or are already displaced or on the move. Spending US$800 million on early warning systems in developing countries would avoid losses of $3-16 billion per year.3

The initiative promotes an inclusive approach to early warning, ensuring that marginalized and vulnerable populations, including children, are not left behind. Early warning systems are almost never child responsive or reach the last mile. UNICEF’s global reach in over 190 countries, and experience supporting national early warning systems and delivering programmes on disaster risk reduction and preparedness, positions us as a key partner to ensure that every country and community has early warning systems and capacities that are truly effective for children, not leaving them behind.

Child-responsive early warning systems are essential for protecting the most vulnerable members of society when hazards strike. They consider the unique needs of children including identifying where and how to reach the most vulnerable through communication channels they can access, promoting their participation in risk management and preparedness actions, and prioritizing their safety and well-being, making them a crucial component of disaster risk reduction efforts.

To ensure every child is protected, UNICEF with partners, will support governments and communities to implement and adapt existing early warning systems to be child responsive. We commit to developing guidance on how to make the whole early warning system value chain child-responsive, with considerations across disaster risk knowledge, monitoring and forecasting, warning dissemination and communication, and preparedness and response capabilities. We will implement this in country with key with national partners to ensure that every early warning system is truly effective for children, parents and the wider community.

Sub-national child focused climate and disaster risk analysis

The climate crisis exposes nearly every child and community on every continent to climate and environmental hazards. One billion children nearly half of the world’s 2.4 billion children live in countries at extremely high risk- according to UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI).4 In these extremely high-risk countries, the CCRI notes that children face a vicious cycle of increasing exposure and vulnerabilities that greatly compromise their ability to survive, grow and thrive.

At the same time, a lack of sufficient subnational risk information and analysis mechanisms is a significant challenge in managing and reducing risks for children. Such risk information is required to assist and guide legislation and national policies on disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. It is also needed to align and coordinate child-inclusive preparedness, humanitarian response, and recovery efforts across sectors at national and subnational level.

In many countries, however, there is a lack of disaggregated (notably gender, age, and disability), timely, geo-referenced, subnational data at high resolution vital for targeted action. These data gaps are significant barriers to developing strategies and plans to focus on building climate-resilient services for children. Therefore, better data collection from trustworthy secondary data sources, systematization and integration are needed on child exposure to specific climate, environmental and other shocks and stresses and disasters and child vulnerabilities to develop child-centred solutions. Such data also needs to be delivered in a way that can be used by all stakeholders and integrated into multiple data platforms.

UNICEF is scaling up its work with Governments and humanitarian and development actors on subnational child focused climate and disaster and displacement risk analysis. In 2024, UNICEF will add 30 countries to its work in this area through the Child Climate Risk Analysis – Disaster Risk Model (CCRI-DRM) and WASH Insecurity Analysis (WIA). This analysis will inform evidenced based decision making and investments in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction efforts. And by designing and implementing risk-informed programmes linking humanitarian and development through a Nexus approach, UNICEF is able to better support national systems prepare solutions to displacement and reach those at risk of being left behind.

Conflict-sensitive and peacebuilding programming in climate vulnerable countries

Many of the most climate vulnerable countries are also affected by conflict; and conflict undermines state capacity to prevent, mitigate, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. It is essential that we ensure integrated support to countries to address conflict and climate risks. UNICEF’s new Strategic Plan (2022-2025) deliberately aims to use its humanitarian and development programming to contribute to preventing crises, reducing fragility and building peace. For the first time, UNICEF’s Strategic Plan elevates peacebuilding – as a cross-cutting priority and deliberately integrates peacebuilding results across its Goal Areas and Change Strategies, which links up to the Humanitarian Development and Peace approach.

UNICEF’s Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action (CCCs) now include specific commitments on linking humanitarian and development programming, which for the first time include benchmarks on conflict sensitivity and sustaining peace. By 2025, UNICEF aims to increase by 40% the number of countries where we have supported national peacebuilding, social cohesion, or violence-prevention plans or processes to be child- or youth-sensitive; and increase by 50% the number of our country offices that meet organizational benchmarks on conflict-sensitive programming and contributions to social cohesion and peace. To deliver on these commitments, UNICEF is launching a new Peacebuilding Programming Framework in 2023.

1 United Nations Environment Programme (2022). Adaptation Gap Report 2022: Too Little, Too Slow – Climate adaptation failure puts world at risk. Nairobi.
2 According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
3 Global Commission on Adaptation (2019). Adapt now: a global call for leadership on climate resilience.
4 The Climate Crisis is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index. New York: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2021.