Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A report prepared by the University of New South Wales for UNICEF China is one of the strangest climate documents I have ever read. Much of the document makes sense, it discusses inequality in China caused by outdated internal migration laws which deprive rural people who migrate to Chinese cities of important rights. But the authors attempted to tie this very real concern about unequal legal rights to alleged climate issues.
China’s children left behind by climate change and urbanisation
21 JUL 2020 KAY HARRISON
A UNSW report considers China’s children affected by migration and climate change, and the necessary social policy reforms required to protect their rights.
The expansion of protections for China’s migrant and ‘left-behind’ children is essential for the nation’s continued economic and social wellbeing, according to a Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) paper.
The landmark study, commissioned by UNICEF China, examines child rights in China in the context of migration, urbanisation and climate change. It approaches the issue from a human rights perspective and maps systemic changes to promote child protection in the future.
“China is experiencing massive urbanisation and severe environmental challenges such as pollution and local climate change. Cities suffering from heat island effects and extreme weather conditions are becoming much more frequent across the country,” says UNSW SHARP Professor Bingqin Li who led the research.
Rural families migrate to cities voluntarily or involuntarily, temporarily and permanently, she says. “People may move from rural to urban areas as urban employment becomes more attractive, as farmers’ lands are acquired or as climate change makes agriculture less reliable to sustain livelihoods.
“The research asks: in the context of urbanisation and climate change, what is child vulnerability, what are the factors behind the vulnerability, and what needs to be done to improve the situation?”
…Read more: https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/social-affairs/china’s-children-left-behind-climate-change-and-urbanisation
The actual report, well consider the following passage;
Migration, urbanisation, climate change and children in China—issues from a child rights perspective
The 2010 Census data shows that about 35.8 million children (0-17) were migrant children, of whom 17 million lived outside the county where their Hukou was registered in. Another 69.7 million children were left in the villages by their migrant parents. The reason that people move from rural to urban areas is often that urban employment becomes more attractive to the rural population, and farmers’ land being acquired, or climate change making agriculture less reliable. Rural families migrate to cities voluntarily or involuntarily, temporarily or permanently. Some children move with their parents, and others remain in rural areas as ‘left-behind’ children.
Child migration or being “left-behind” as a result of urbanisation and climate change poses serious risks to children’s life, development and wellbeing. It is important for China to offer protection to all children for the wellbeing of children and for the good of society as a whole. A number of important policy measures have improved the lives of migrant and left-behind children, particularly regarding access to, and quality of, healthcare and education. A rights approach can help to identify child issues and provide benchmarks. Further improvements in services and extending welfare coverage are needed to secure the rights of all children.
Understanding of China’s migration trends, particularly those associated with urbanisation and climate change, should be put in the context of economic development for which industrialisation has been the primary driving force. Chart 1 depicts the relationship between migration, urbanisation and climate change from the perspective of industrialisation, which demands for more land and resource supply, and cheap labour. The land demand and environmental consequences of industrialisation also indirectly lead to a further push for urbanisation of different parts of the population, such as peri-urban farmers and eco-migrations and resettlement.
…Read more: http://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:48337/bin3fa72a28-04c0-488f-8dde-601d1ee47941?view=true&xy=01
I hope China sorts out the gross inequality described by this document. But mixing climate change into a serious discussion of what appears to be a real and pressing issue is just a distraction.
Update (EW): Old engineer points out that between 2008 and 2018 rice production in China rose substantially.