UNICEF Children's Climate Change Risk Index (CCRI): Systematic Review of the Literature: Findings, Outcomes and Policy Recommendations

Irena L. C. Connon, Lena Dominelli

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    This report has been compiled as part of the Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI) Project for UNICEF based on the work undertaken for the systematic literature review (SLR) in work package (WP2) by Irena Connon (Research Fellow and Co-I) and Lena Dominelli (Social Sciences Lead). The purpose is to provide a descriptive overview of the findings of the Systematic Literature Review from which a Diagram of Linkages between Climate Risk Factors and their Importance for Child Health Outcomes and a Child-Centred Iterative Loop Framework for Action were developed. This report considers:
    1) How and to what extent the existing research and policy literature has examined the interactions and intersections between all the individual, structural, institutional, cultural factors, policies, and wider geographical domains that determine the risks, vulnerabilities, mitigation strategies and outcomes for individuals, including children, experiencing climate change hazards, risks, and related disasters.
    2) The extent to which the agency, decision-making capacity, and rights of children, adolescents and young people has been captured within the existing academic research literature.
    The systematic literature review explored seven key themes: 1) Climate change, risks, hazards, and related disasters; 2) Vulnerability mitigation activities associated with climate change, 3) Stages of climate-related disasters; 4) Climate shocks and stresses, 5) Climate change, risks, health, and wellbeing; 6) Discrimination and oppression in relation to climate change, and 7) Resilience and climate change hazards, risks, and related disasters. The findings and the contributions made by other members of the CCRI project team were then
    drawn upon to develop the Diagram of Factors Linked to Children’s Climate Change Health Risk and the Child-Centred Iterative Loop Framework. The weighting that the existing literature attributed to each linkage was derived by using citations as a proxy of importance.
    Key Findings
    Our systematic review of academic and policy-relevant grey literatures found that:
    1) Little is known about the intersections between the multi-layered factors and how they influence differences in risks for children (including adolescents and young people).
    2) The risks manifest in the day-to-day realities of children are not well understood.
    3) The impacts that vary according to the specific ages of children are rarely considered. 4) Adults make decisions about children’s futures without understanding and addressing the specific climate risks that children face. 5) There remains a notable absence of children’s agency and decision-making capacities within the existing research. 
    The citation analysis revealed the three relationships most commonly identified as influencers of health risks associated with climate change were: 1) poverty and child health, 2) education and child health, and 3) poverty and education. However, given the lack of research examining risk from children’s perspectives, this can only be said to be reflect adult understandings of children’s risk rather than children’s own understandings. The Child-Centred Iterative Loop Framework highlights the limitations within existing knowledge, particularly the tendency to focus on adults’ perceptions of climate risks to children, and repositions children in the centre as agents.
    Conclusion and Recommendations As children are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, it is fundamental for them to be positioned at the centre of all developments in research, policy, decision-making, and practice, and for them to be recognised as agents capable of determining their own futures as envisaged in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Opportunities for children to exercise their agency and for research to be conducted in partnership with children to coproduce and utilise qualitative forms of inquiry to understand their real-life experiences of climate risk are critical to future development.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages51
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2022

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Social Sciences
    • General Health Professions


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