Press Release

UNICEF calls for urgent action to address water scarcity and its impact on children and young people’s lives in Iraq ahead of COP26

01 November 2021

BAGHDAD, 01 November 2021 – Children and young people in Iraq are the most at risk of the impacts of climate change especially water scarcity, threatening their health, education, and protection, and exposing them to deadly diseases. Ahead of COP26, UNICEF calls for urgent action to address water scarcity and its impact on children’s and young people’s lives in Iraq.

According to UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index, released in August this year, Iraq ranks 42nd among the most water stressed countries globally. Projections for 2030 and 2040 in a Business as Usual Scenario suggest an extremely high-water stress index score worsening the situation of children in the country. 

Children and young people are at medium-high climate risk in Iraq, with vulnerable groups and certain regions of the country at a higher risk. The climate crisis is a child rights crisis. It poses an unprecedented threat to the development, survival, and potential of all children and young people, everywhere in Iraq. It represents an absolute injustice to the next generation.

Ambitious, comprehensive, and urgent action is needed for every girl and boy in Iraq to have a chance at a better future unhindered by the violence of climate change.

UNICEF is encouraged that a high level delegation from the Government of Iraq, including representatives from young people, will participate at COP26 and pledges support for action beyond this meeting to put in place tangible measures to address the multiple threats posed by climate change in Iraq.

UNICEF is therefore calling on the federal and regional governments, businesses and relevant duty bearers in Iraq to:

  1. Increase investment in climate adaptation and resilience in key services for children and young people. To protect them, communities and the most vulnerable from the worst impacts of the already changing climate, critical services must be adapted, including water, sanitation and hygiene systems, health and education services.
  2. Provide children and young people with climate education and skills, critical for their adaptation to and preparation for the effects of climate change. Children and young people will face the full devastating consequences of the climate crisis and water insecurity, yet they are the least responsible. We have a duty to all young people and future generations.
  3. Promote meaningful civic engagement of young people on climate change and include young girls and boys, especially the most vulnerable in all national, regional and international climate negotiations and decisions, including at COP26 future meetings. Children and young people must be included in all climate-related decision making and their voices must be heard and taken into account.
  4. Ensure the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is green, low-carbon and inclusive, so that the capacity of future generations to address and respond to the climate crisis is not compromised.



UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child; in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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Innocent Kafembe

Innocent Kafembe

Digital Specialist
Miguel Mateos Muñoz

Miguel Mateos Muñoz

Chief of Communication – UNICEF Iraq

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