Climate change has made young people across the world reconsider their future parenthood plans, a global poll by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed, underlining their uncertainty about the planet’s future.
UNICEF’s U-Report – a digital platform that supports youth engagement on program priorities, emergency response, and advocacy action – included over 243,500 young people from 163 countries throughout July and August this year.
The poll’s findings revealed Wednesday at the COP27 in Egypt show that almost half of young people in Africa – 44 percent in the Middle East and North Africa and 43 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa – are rethinking their plans to eventually have children someday.
This confirms last year’s results of The Lancet’s survey which revealed that 39% of the 10,000 global respondents expressed hesitance to have children.
Accounting for the highest rate increase compared to youth from other regions, they reported more often than other young people globally they’re beginning to feel the climate change’s direct impact – it has affected their access to food and water and their family’s income.
According to the head of UNICEF’s COP27 delegation, Paloma Escudero, the impacts of climate change are far more than floods, droughts, and heatwaves and extend to people’s very sense of hope, changing their plans for the future.
She emphasized that world leaders present at COP27 must listen to young people’s anxiety, especially in Africa, and take immediate action to protect them.
Globally, three in five respondents – 70% of whom were based in the Middle East and North Africa – have considered moving to another country or city due to climate change.
While more than half of respondents in the UNICEF poll have experienced either drought or extreme heat, one in four young people in the poll said climate change has affected their family’s income source and reported experiencing flooding and air pollution.
Among the most worrying findings included the fact that two in five respondents said they had less food to eat, 52 percent of whom were based in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Noting that young people’s futures are up in the air, Escudero urged businesses and governments to reduce emissions and act immediately to protect children from climate devastation by adapting the crucial social services they rely on.