Collections > Master's Papers > Gillings School of Public Health > Growing Up Healthy in a Changing Climate: Integrating Global Policies to Improve Children's Health and Adapt to Climate Change

With the release in September 2013 of its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientifically settled the question of whether climate change is occurring and humans' contributions to it. In addition, the IPCC concluded that: "Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems" (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2014). Such people include children and young people who make up 30% of the world's population, and nearly 50% in the developing world (United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), 2014b). Major global health policies and agreements are only recently beginning to recognize the need to consider and prioritize the impacts of climate change on children's health. Similarly, global policies to understand and address climate change are only slowly beginning to recognize the particular vulnerabilities of children at all stages of life, including prenatally, to the impacts of climate change. This paper provides a review of the recognition of climate change impacts in global policies to improve children's health (and by extension, maternal health), and of the recognition of the unique vulnerabilities of children and pregnant women in global policies to explain and address climate change. An analysis of the policies identified common points in relation to specific areas of health impacts on children and mothers, as well as gaps that may offer access points opportunities to integrate climate change adaptation recommendations into health policies to produce co-benefits for both the Earth and human health. Lastly, a discussion of emerging areas of global leadership on this topic highlights needs and, in particular, efforts to acknowledge and enlist children and young people themselves to help solve what may well be the greatest global problem of their lifetimes.