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KARACHI: “Children are the least responsible for contributing to the climate crisis, yet pay the highest price for it” remarked Dr Sanjay Wijesekera, Regional Director for UNICEF’s Regional Office of South Asia (ROSA) while addressing the two-day conference on climate change, titled “Climate Change, Environment and Heath: Opportunities for Change”, held at the Aga Khan University.

Dr Wijesekera emphasized on how the youngest populations around the world, and particularly in South Asia, are at a risk for encountering severe biohazards for the climate change that has been triggered over the past decades.

He added that while children’s immune systems are developing, they breathe at a faster rate than adults, inhale more air pollutants, and their bodies can’t adapt faster to temperature changes, which is why they are unable to remove excess heat from their bodies.

This leaves them at a high exposure for illnesses including dehydration, organ failure, high blood pressure, and seizures.

The ROSA Director also recounted the immense damages left behind by the 2022 floods in many parts of the country, and added that “By 2050 nearly 6 billion people are predicted to be directly affected by climate change, we must build a climate resilient and environmentally sustainable health system to protect children and their families against public health emergencies and health risks.”

Addressing the UN’s efforts in protecting children’s climate rights, the United Nations Committee on Child Rights in September this year for the first time specifically dedicated to child rights with respect to climate change and resolutions required to build a safer environment for children all around the world.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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