The Asian Development Banks Law and Policy Reform counsel, Irum Ahsan leading a session on Children and Climate Change where Banks were criticized for funding development projects that have damaged the environment and adds to climate change
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 10 MARCH 2020: The Banks are also to blame for funding projects with negative impacts on the climate and the environment and they should he held responsible for this.
This was the view of the member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child from Bulgaria, Velina Todorova during the open discussion in the session on Children and Climate Change with representatives of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) who hosted the session.
Todorova said if banks did not fund such huge projects, the world and people would still enjoy good climate and a healthy environment.
“You ask a banker why they give so much and they will say it’s for the economic development of a country,” said Todorova.
ADB’s Law and Policy Reform counsel Irum Ahsan responded by saying that ADB is not a commercial bank.
She said ADB gives special focus on the safeguard of the environment and that they assess every proposal for funding to ensure they comply with ADB’s standards.
“We do not fund any project unless there is compliance with our safeguard policy and environmental impact assessment,” said Ahsan.
She said although ADB has been involved in climate changes issues for a long time, their participation in last week’s conference is the first to directly work with children and the United Nations.
For the session with children they decided to bring the children on board so the ADB can hear directly from the children’s perspective on climate change, its root causes and what needs to be done.
“It has been fantastic, engaging with the children and vulnerable people like the elderly and indigenous people and this platform has given us more network and contact,” she said.
It was also a chance for them to talk to law makers, Judges, and policy makers.
“The picture is beautiful, but needs more colours”
This was one of the comments voiced by a young Samoan student on climate change with members of the CRC Committee.
The session included an exercise where the Committee were given a paper with nine colouring crayons to draw the vision of a perfect world as they see it. The children were included in the exercise but were given only 3 crayons.
At the end of the exercise, the Committees pictures were shown to the children and 9 year old Eva Wheast of the Vaiala Primary School commented that the “picture is beautiful but needs more colour.”
“With the 3 crayons, the children drew a much better version of a perfect world than what we had,” said Committee member Justice Vui Clarence Nelson.
“Children bring colour to our lives and we adults need to listen and hear what they say,” said Justice Vui.
The importance of children’s participation in the climate change session is for the Committee to hear directly their concern for the world that one day will be theirs.
Justice Vui who is Samoa’s Acting Chief Justice, encouraged the children that they can make a difference by starting at their own back yard.
“Start lobbying and promote positive actions, start little and even Governments will hear your voices.”
Promoting and empowering children’s participation
At a press conference today to release the recommendations and outcomes of last weeks conference, emphasis was given to children’s rights to be heard and their views given consideration in relevant administrative and judicial proceedings in respect to all rights covered by the Convention.
Promoting and empowering children’s participation within the family, communities and schools, and include children in decision-making on all matters related to children, including environmental matters.
It is also recommended to develop mechanisms for the systematic participation of children in the development and implementation of laws, policies and programmes relating to children.