Impacts of climate change on children revealed

A report that examines the impact of climate change on children and predicts how and where young people are most at risk has been released by an international team.

Children affected by floods in Bangladesh
Children affected by floods in Bangladesh Credit: Getty images

The Child Climate Risk Index (CCRI) and the accompanying report will provide Unicef – the United Nation’s children’s fund – with key information to better target its climate change response to serve the most vulnerable.

Among the report’s findings is that nearly half of the world’s 2.2bn children live in countries classified as at ‘extremely high risk’ from climate change.

The CCRI is being delivered by the Data for Children Collaborative with Unicef, a partnership between the children’s agency, the Scottish Government and the University of Edinburgh’s Data Driven Innovation programme.

Child vulnerability

Climate change affects children’s health, wellbeing and socio-economic status differently to adults, experts say, yet they are rarely considered separately.

Researchers in the School of GeoSciences are using the latest climate projections to assess the exposure of children to environmental hazards and examine how vulnerable young people are to climate change.

The first phase of the project will create CCRI 2020 – a global analysis of the current risks of climate change to children and which populations are most likely to be exposed to extreme weather events such as heat waves, drought, flooding and cyclones.

The first report on the initial findings is now available.  

Case studies are being carried out for Uganda and Tanzania where the impact of climate change on children will be estimated by examining social, economic and health conditions – alongside environmental changes, in order to identify regional variations.

Predicting the future

The second phase will combine data on temperature, floods, disease and drought with a child-specific vulnerability index to project scenarios to 2050 of how climate change may affect young people.

The projections will be used to help organisations understand the scale and scope of children’s vulnerabilities to climate change, and boost efforts to tackle them.


Further results will be presented at COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, taking place in Glasgow later this year.

This work will provide a unique insight into children’s vulnerability under different climate change scenarios, allowing Unicef to focus its efforts on the most vulnerable populations of children as well as identifying and informing suitable directions for future research, policy and practice.”

Dr Sian HenleyLecturer in Marine Science and one of the project leads, School of GeoSciences

We are delighted to showcase the services of the Data for Children Collaborative with Unicef on such a valuable and important piece of work.  Knowing that this tool will help Unicef to highlight the plight of children across the globe, and at such a key juncture as COP26, drives the enthusiasm and rigour of this collaborative team.

Alex HutchisonDirector, Data for Children Collaborative with Unicef

Related links

Journal paper     

School of GeoSciences 

Data for Children Collaborative with Unicef  

Unicef press release 

The Climate Crisis is a Childs Rights Crisis- Report   

CCRI Atlas