In November 2020, UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) jointly hosted a virtual symposium in order to better understand how children and youth are affected by climate-related migration and displacement and to enhance their visibility in the public policy discourse. Discussions at the symposium highlighted that at present, there is no global policy framework for addressing the needs and rights of children moving in the context of climate change.Where child-related migration policies do exist, they do not consider climate and environmental factors, and where climate change policies exist they usually overlook children’s needs. Symposium participants recommended that developing a set of Guiding Principles for safeguarding the rights and well-being of children and youth moving in the context of climate change can be an important first step towards addressing this gap. The Guiding Principles are intended to be used by local and national governments, international organizations and civil society groups working with children on the move in the context of climate change.
These principles apply to all children who move in the context of climate change, whether they move within their country of origin or to international destinations, whether they move temporarily or permanently, whether they move on their own or with caretakers, and whether they move through regular or irregular channels. The documents that were consulted in developing the Guiding Principles on Children on the Move in the Context of Climate Change, can be viewed here. The Guiding Principles also apply to children who cannot or choose not to move, including children ‘left behind’ by migrating parents, and whose enjoyment of rights may be negatively impacted by climate change.