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UNICEF Launches 2011 State of the World’s Children Report

25 February 2011: The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) released its annual flagship report, "The State of the World's Children 2011 – Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity," on 25 February at UN Headquarters in New York, US.

The report advocates that investing in the world's 1.2 billion adolescents – those between ages of 10 and 19 – can break the cycle of poverty. The report examines the global challenges faced by teenage girls and boys, including poverty, unemployment and globalization, juvenile crime and violence, conflict and emergency settings. It also highlights dangers posed by emerging trends, such as climate change and environmental degradation, explosive urbanization and migration, ageing societies and the rising cost of health care, and the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

The report indicates that the increased frequency and severity of climate change impact has the potential to disrupt not only young people's health and nutrition, but also their education and development. It notes that while children and young are most seriously affected by the accelerating deterioration of the environment, they have the potential to become stewards to protect the environment if equipped with knowledge and capacity. The report also indicates that the current generation of adolescents will bear the larger portion of the burden and cost of mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The report stresses that adolescents should be encouraged to be integral partners along with adults in decision making as it related to climate change matters. It recalls that on 4 December 2009, youth delegates consensually agreed on a Declaration at the Children's Climate Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark. It also recalls that in 2008, the UN established the Joint Framework Initiative on Children, Youth and Climate Change, which has spurred the integration of efforts for and by adolescents and youth on climate change at the international level.

The report includes an essay by the President of the Republic of Kiribati, Anote Tong, on the effects of climate change in Kiribati and its tangible threat to adolescents. President Tong stresses that climate change is “eating away" the future for young people in Kiribati, putting their physical and mental development at risk. He notes that in 30 to 40 years, their country and home may no longer be habitable or may not even exist. He advocates for investing in information communication technologies (ICT) to enable more young people to participate in discussions on climate change.

The report further features notes from two 16 year-old, namely Syed Aown Shazad, from Pakistan, and Meenakshi Dunga, from India, on the effects of climate change on children and the need for nursing our planet back to health. [Publication: The State of the World's Children 2011 Report – Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity]