UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell visits Brazil to highlight the impact of poverty and climate change on children

The Executive Director’s visit to Sao Paulo, Recife and Brasilia highlight the more than half of Brazil’s children living in poverty, with many more vulnerable to climate and environmental risks

BRASILIA/NEW YORK, 31 August 2023 –   UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell concluded today a four-day visit to Brazil to highlight the plight of children and adolescents in the country impacted by poverty and climate change.

“Prioritizing children and their well-being must be a top priority for the Government and the private sector in Brazil,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Brazil is working hard to accelerate progress in all areas of children’s health, education and safety.  Brazil can serve as an important role model to put the rights of children at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Russell met with senior leadership in the Brazilian government, alongside members of the private sector and representatives from vulnerable and marginalized communities. During those meetings, she reiterated  her support  to Brazil’s  efforts to improve the well-being of more than 32 million children who are living through  different levels of poverty.

Children in Brazil grow up in the midst of significant levels of poverty, which in turn, limits their  access to essential services, such as health, education, basic sanitation, and protection. Meanwhile, 40 million children in Brazil have been found vulnerable to climate or environmental risks.

The visit comes a few weeks ahead of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York. This year countries will take stock of progress at the halfway point to achieving the 2030 Development Goals. For many, including Brazil, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and global inflation have slowed or reversed progress on some of the Goals.

Russell visited three of Brazil’s largest cities, engaging with the private sector and youth in São Paulo, government officials and civil society in Brasilia, and vulnerable communities in the coastal city of Recife, one of the most at-risk cities in the world related to climate change.

“The children of Brazil face many difficulties, including the impact of climate change, poverty, and lack of access to essential services,” said Russell, “It was inspiring to hear the views and aspirations of young people.  It is essential to engage all children in finding solutions to these key challenges.”

In 2023, UNICEF has continued to deliver assistance to 2.2 million people in the region covering those affected by human mobility and vulnerable populations. The results of which would not have been possible without key partners.