Climate change isn’t coming for our children- It’s here. With the newly released UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report, issuing a ‘code red for humanity,’ and recent headlining wildfires, floods, and other climate-change-related tragedies, the need to act on climate has never been more urgent. Children, especially children of color and those from low-wealth communities are often the first and hardest hit by climate-related health impacts. In fact, children under 5 years of age are estimated to bear 88% of the global burden of disease due to climate change.
As Deputy Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN), I love that I can find common ground with almost everyone about the importance of protecting children’s health. Children’s wellbeing is a compelling and unifying value that drives collective action, especially climate action and climate justice advocacy.
This past year’s climate-change-related disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic, heightened racial tensions, and the continued trend of increasing childhood chronic illnesses, developmental conditions, and mental health concerns have impacted all facets of children’s lives—especially Black, Brown, and Indigenous children. We urgently need to speak out on behalf of, and increasingly with, children to effect transformative change from an extractive economy to a regenerative and just one that places children and future generations at the center of decision-making.
Children’s Environmental Health Day (CEH Day; October 14, 2021) is an opportunity to celebrate climate solutions that protect child health, raise awareness, and drive progress on climate action in your community. City and State CEH Day proclamations are just one of the many tools available to leverage lasting change, beginning with this one day in October. Proclamations provide accountability for decision-makers and inspire action.
A user-friendly proclamation toolkit provides customizable templates for proclamations. Using these templates, it takes just a few minutes to request proclamations from your mayor and/or governor, showcasing their commitment to protecting the environmental health of children in their jurisdiction.
The exciting part comes next. Once you obtain a proclamation, make sure folks know about it! Spread the word widely, via the CEH Day map, social media, an op-ed, press release, and photo opportunity with the mayor or governor. Turn this public declaration into an advocacy tool for climate action. Does your city need to invest more in electric vehicle infrastructure, green buildings, or increasing urban tree canopy in under-resourced neighborhoods? Are you fighting a proposed biomass incinerator facility in your community or the widening of major roads? Follow up with the elected official and respective offices: bring the signed proclamation and your climate action agenda and hold them accountable.
Let’s face it. We need as many strategies as possible to push for urgent and aggressive action on climate change mitigation and adaptation. CEH Day and its proclamation toolkit are designed and freely accessible to you for this specific purpose. Check it out now, urge all of your local or state chapters and partners to leverage it, and together, let’s drive progress in climate justice and action for our children and for all of us.
Watch the Let’s Talk Climate episode we recorded about Children’s Environmental Health Day Proclamation as a tool for climate action:
Kristie Trousdale, MPH, is the Deputy Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network. CEHN is a partner of Climate for Health, a coalition of health leaders committed to caring for our climate to care for our health. Founded by ecoAmerica, Climate for Health offers tools, resources, and communications to demonstrate visible climate leadership, inspiring and empowering health leaders to speak about, act on and advocate for climate solutions. Learn more about our partnership and the resources available to you here.