How Climate Change Debate can Help Children: Leaders Fight Trafficking

How Climate Change Debate can Help Children: Leaders Stand Up Against Trafficking

Friday July 24, 2015 -What do the Queen of Sweden, Pope Francis and Mayor De Blasio of New York all have in common? No, this is not the start to a joke but an example of the wide range of people who have committed themselves to help stop child trafficking!

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during the “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” conference at the Vatican July 21, 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Tony Gentile

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during the “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” conference at the Vatican July 21, 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Pope Francis has repeatedly made it clear that addressing climate change and human trafficking should be at the top of the global agenda. This week, Pope Francis hosted 60 mayors from cities around the world, including Stockholm and New York, to discuss climate change and human trafficking. They signed a declaration to fight climate change and committed themselves to “ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of modern slavery.”

Earlier this year, on April 27, H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden, founder of World Childhood Foundation, and H.R.H. Princess Madeleine of Sweden, founder of ThankYou by Childhood, traveled to the Vatican to participate in a seminar to address the challenges of climate change and human trafficking. They also met the Secretary General of the United Nation, Ban Ki moon, who participated in a landmark Vatican event which brought together heads of state, religious leaders and experts. “My mother has done an amazing job over the past 16 years in promoting the rights of children,” said Princess Madeleine. “Pope Francis’ work to combat child trafficking and climate change couldn’t come at a better time.”

His Holiness Pope Francis meeting HM Queen Silvia of Sweden and the Royal Family in April 2015 to before the Seminar to address Trafficking. Also pictured, Princess Leonore. Photo Courtesy of the Swedish Royal Court

His Holiness Pope Francis meeting HM Queen Silvia of Sweden and the Royal Family in April 2015 to before the Seminar to address Trafficking. Also pictured, Princess Leonore. Photo Courtesy of the Swedish Royal Court

For many, the connection between climate change and human trafficking is not obvious. However, the 2014 UNICEF report on climate change and children noted that “children will bear the brunt of the impact” of climate change. With stronger and more frequent extreme weather events, such as flooding, hurricanes and droughts, more children will have their homes and communities destroyed; forcing them to migrate. Child refugees are at a greater risk of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, trafficking, and exploitation, especially if they have lost their parents along the way.

World Childhood Foundation and our partners around the world are working hard to ensure that no child has to experience abuse and that the victims of abuse get the support they need to heal. For example, one project Childhood supports, Komar Rikreay, provides a safe living space to Cambodian children who have been trafficked or exploited.

But wherever child abuse is taking place in the world, one of the barriers in ending it has been the lack of awareness of the problem. By highlighting the climate’s effect on the lives of children, we can raise awareness and mobilize action to protect children at risk. Princess Madeleine added, “It is fantastic to see how Pope Francis also is committed to change the lives of children for the better, something he is making clear even as he takes a bold stand on climate.” 

 

Text By: Joanna Rubinstein, Thomas Brande

Photo Credit: mustharshid via Flickr