In a groundbreaking endeavor to address the impending climate crisis, National level non-government organisation Child in Need Institute (CINI) unveiled the visionary “What Children Want” a nationwide campaign, with a specific focus on the Impact of Environment on Children, highlighting the urgency of Climate Change.
This transformative initiative was launched on 19th December in Kolkata marking a pivotal moment in empowering children under the age of 18 as climate champions. The campaign aims to position children at the forefront of climate change strategies and disaster response plans, recognizing their indispensable role in shaping the future of our planet. The campaign encompasses a range of vital themes, including reducing single-use plastics, promoting energy conservation, encouraging clothing rejuvenation, advocating for healthy dietary habits, and disseminating scientific knowledge.
As the specter of climate change and environmental degradation looms large on a global scale, posing existential threats to humanity, it is children, women, and the elderly who find themselves most susceptible. Governments worldwide have initiated a spectrum of policies, frameworks, and protocols to contend with these complex issues. India, notably, has been actively engaged in global efforts to combat climate change and mitigate the effects of global warming, particularly through a series of progressive green initiatives.
In response to these pressing challenges, CINI adopted a proactive stance by soliciting expert opinions and amplifying the voices of children from grassroots communities across 12 Indian states through a rigorous consultative process. This concerted effort aimed to craft a comprehensive roadmap for addressing the alarming predicament of environmental degradation. Children from across the country including Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Nagaland, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, and Delhi were present to join the Campaign in Kolkata.
To further their overarching mission, CINI organized a National Consultation on Environment and Climate Change, with a specialized focus on children. The occasion marked the inauguration of a Nationwide Campaign dedicated to Environment & Children, aimed at collating extensive evidence regarding children’s aspirations for a sustainable environment, spanning the breadth and depth of India.
The Outcome of the Consultation was: Provide an esteemed platform for in-depth consultative discourse on environmental and climate change issues, featuring contributions from experts and the voices of children, while exploring their impact on children’s rights.
Establish a robust coordination mechanism among stakeholders and craft a comprehensive roadmap for collective advocacy and policy influence, with a clear focus on safeguarding children’s rights from an environmental perspective.
Sujoy Roy, the National Advocacy Officer at CINI, emphasized the campaign’s core mission, stating, “We aspire to awaken children to the profound impact of their everyday actions. We firmly believe that instilling environmentally responsible habits during their formative years will yield lasting results.”
A recent study conducted as part of the state-level “What Children Want” campaign in Kolkata and the Sundarbans area revealed concerning environmental apprehensions among children. The data indicates that in Kolkata, a significant majority of children (54.07%) fear the devastation caused by cyclones, in stark contrast to the Sundarbans, where over half of the children (52.88%) are haunted by the fear of their entire region submerging. These location-specific fears underscore the deep psychological impact of environmental threats on young minds, highlighting the urgent need for awareness and action to address region-specific environmental challenges.
Against the backdrop of an escalating global climate crisis, one that disproportionately threatens children and the environment, Dr. Samir Chaudhuri, Founder, CINI wholeheartedly supported the campaign’s overarching goal. Dr. Chaudhuri stated, “By actively involving children in the climate action narrative, we are engaging the decision-makers of the future, those poised to usher in the transformative changes our world urgently requires.”
Krishna, a young participant in the CINI program, conveyed the enthusiasm of children for this initiative, saying, “As a child, I’m excited to be part of this campaign. We learn about the environment in school, and now we can take real action to protect our planet. It’s our future, after all.”
For nearly half a century, the Child in Need Institute (CINI) has been at the forefront of efforts to uplift vulnerable children in rural and urban communities across India. Their unwavering mission encompasses ensuring that children and adolescents have unfettered access to essential services and entitlements, including health, nutrition, education, protection, participation, and a safe living environment.