Citing the first UNICEF global report on "The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children's Climate Risk Index", the statement said Cambodian children ranked the world's 46th most vulnerable among 163 countries and regions.
The report found Cambodian children are highly exposed to water scarcity, riverine flooding and vector-borne disease, but investments in social services, particularly access to water, sanitation and hygiene, health and nutrition, education and social protection services, can make a significant difference to safeguard their futures from the impacts of climate change.
"The climate crisis is a child's rights crisis because it threatens all aspects of children's health and wellbeing, on a scale humanity has never experienced before," said Foroogh Foyouzat, UNICEF representative in Cambodia.
"The World and Cambodian children know climate change is a threat to their future, and they are calling on the world leaders and everybody to act," she said. "We need to listen to them, their concerns and needs, and integrate them into all climate-related decision making. At the same time, we urgently need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase investment in climate adaptation and resilience in key services for them."
Without the urgent action required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, children will continue to suffer the most, Foyouzat said, adding that compared to adults, children require more food and water per unit of their body weight, are less able to survive extreme weather events, and are more susceptible to toxic chemicals, temperature changes and diseases, among other factors.
"Climate change has made the world a riskier place for children to live and grow in, but we can prevent it from becoming worse if we act now," she said. "We need to invest in services they depend upon to survive and thrive -- such as water, healthcare and education infrastructure."
UNICEF regional director Marcoluigi Corsi said children in East Asia and the Pacific countries are on the frontline of the climate crisis and the climate hazards they face, from lethal heat waves and drought to flooding to wildfires, are already becoming more severe and intense.
"The region is one of the most vulnerable to climate-related disasters globally, with about half of the population directly affected every year," he said.
He added that the climate crisis disproportionally affects the most vulnerable children and adolescents, exacerbating current inequalities and undermining the progress achieved over the last few decades. - Xinhua