Business statement: Accelerating climate adaptation for every child

Ahead of COP27, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and global business leaders have released a joint statement calling on governments and businesses to take decisive action in accelerating climate adaptation and ensuring that the focus on children’s rights remain central to discussions, negotiations, and actions.

How does climate change affect children?

Almost 1 billion children – nearly half of the world’s child population – are at ‘extremely high risk’ of the devastating impacts of climate change, with increased exposure to more frequent, intense, and destructive climate hazards including air pollution, water scarcity, heatwaves, vector-borne disease, cyclones, and river and coastal flooding.

Over 900 million children are exposed to water scarcity, and 559 million children are exposed to high heatwave frequency. Almost 330 million children – 1 in 7 worldwide – are exposed to at least five of these major hazards, putting their futures in peril, and making it extremely difficult for them to live, play and thrive.

What are the costs of not taking urgent climate action for children?

Globally, nearly 4 billion children will be born over the next three decades who will face rising threats to their survival and prosperity.

If we don’t take urgent action on climate:

  • By 2040, it is expected that around 600 million children – or 1 in 4 children worldwide – will be living in areas with extremely limited water resources.
  • By 2050, all the world’s children – 2.02 billion – are expected to be exposed to heatwaves, regardless of whether the world achieves a ‘low greenhouse gas emission scenario’ with an estimated 1.7 degrees of warming.

The world is fast heading towards a human-induced climate catastrophe that can only be averted if decisive action is taken now.

What is needed to address the global climate crisis, for every child?

Mitigation – reduction in carbon emissions – measures offer the only long-term solution to address the crisis, but these will likely take decades to reverse the impacts of climate change. Limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius and accelerating investments in adaptation – which only accounts for 4-8% of all climate finance – are the only effective ways to save the lives and futures of children and their communities.  Governments, investors and the business community engaged in global climate finance should seek to urgently reduce the currently massive funding gap for climate adaptation and achieve the pledged balance between mitigation and adaptation financing.

Here is what investing in climate adaptation and resilience can achieve:

  • Building adaptive capacity for children by preparing them to live in a climate-changed world and improving access to resilient water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health and nutrition services, and educational outcomes can significantly reduce overall climate risk for millions of youth.
  • The number of people in need of international humanitarian assistance as a result of climate-related disasters annually could be as low as 68 million by 2030, and 10 million by 2050 – a decrease of 90 per cent compared to present day.
  • Investing $800 million in early-warning systems in underdeveloped countries could save up to $16 billion per year in damages.

What role can business play in delivering climate action for children and the planet?

Businesses have been credible partners to governments in steering global efforts towards net-zero, committing to ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions, and putting forward ground-breaking innovative solutions, and forge partnerships and pathways to speed-up the transition to a green economy.

They are in a unique position to close the significant gap between climate mitigation and adaptation, which can help to stave off the adverse impacts of climate change for children and young people around the world. They also possess the capacity – technological and financial – to accelerate the scale up of solutions that can help to provide targeted support to children vulnerable to climate hazards and stresses.

Over the next ten years, global investments in key adaptation areas, including early warning systems, resilient water resources, and climate resilient infrastructure etc. could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits.

Businesses can harness the opportunities of climate action – which could unlock trillions in investments and create millions of jobs through 2030 – and deliver long-term value to their stakeholders, people, and more importantly, children.

By lending their voice, influence, and financial resources, businesses can work in concert with governments and peers to achieve ambitious carbon emissions reduction targets and keep global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, and towards climate adaptation policies and frameworks focused on children.

We are calling on business leaders and governments to play a defining role in the global coordination for climate action and ensuring that the focus on children’s rights remain central to discussions, negotiations, and actions.


  • International Chamber of Commerce
    John W.H. Denton AO, Secretary General
  • Orestia
    Maria Fernanda Garza, CEO
  • Formula E 
    Jamie Reigle, CEO
  • Unilever 
    Alan Jope, CEO
  • The B Team
    Halla Tómasdóttir, CEO