EventElevating Early Childhood Development at COP (Conference of the Parties, Global Climate Summit): Reflections from COP 27
Date2 February 2023
Time11am Singapore and Manila | 3pm Fiji and Marshall Islands 


This virtual talanoa discussed key results of the Sharm El Sheik Climate Summit (COP27), and how they intersect with global early childhood development (ECD) policy. Speakers shared reflections on COP27 and opportunities to elevate ECD as a fundamental building block of climate resilience, as well as a pathway to adaptation and mitigation.

The webinar highlighted the pioneering leadership of the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) government and the support of the Pacific Regional Council for ECD, UNICEF and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) in interweaving ECD and climate change policy. The dialogue explored the potential for ECD-centered climate policies and programs to create new opportunities for international financing of the human development, climate resilience and sustainable development of vulnerable nations.


Honourable Esa Sharon-Mona Faitala Ainu’u, Minister of Natural Resources with portfolio responsibilities in Environment, Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, Meteorological Services. She is also the Pacific Gender and Climate Change Political Champion.

Molly Helkena, is currently the project manager for Kora Fund- a womens fund that creates ground-breaking and sustainable change for Marshallese women and girls thru transformative loans. Previously, Molly was Marshall Islands ECD National Advisor for three years. Prior to that she was an Assistant Secretary for the Ministry of Internal Affairs for 8 years. Molly also supported several policies and legislative review and reforms relating to social development, including CRC legislative review and RMI National ECD Policy.

Melinia Nawadra is the PIFS Social Policy Team Leader and Social Inclusion Adviser and has worked in international development for the past 20 years on social development issues. She has a Master's Degree in Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development from the Australian National University. Her favourite role and one that gives her the best and most challenging experiences is being mother to her two children.

Adrián Cerezo, Ph.D., M.E.Sc. Cerezo is a Visiting Researcher and CHILD project Fellow at the Yale Child Study Center, and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Maine. His transdisciplinary work explores the fundamental role of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Dr. Cerezo has a PhD and MESc from Yale University with a focus on social ecology, child development, complex systems, and global policy, as well as more than 25 years of field experience in environmental and community-based education. He currently serves as Senior Advisor on Early Childhood Development and Climate Change to the Asia Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC), UNICEF Pacific, and the Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN). In November of 2022, he joined the delegation of the Republic of the Marshall Islands at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27).

Sri Hari Govind is a recently graduated medical doctor from South India. He currently works as a Climate-Health Fellow at the Global Consortium of Climate and Health Education, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. In his additional capacity, he serves as the Integration and Protection Lead at Migration Youth and Children Platform, MGCY and Asia Lead of Commonwealth Youth Health Network. He is also Youth Advisor to Children, Cities and Climate Action Lab, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Steering Committee member at Global Health Network Healthcare Information or All (HIFA).


Joy Millan-Maler is the Early Childhood Development Specialist of UNICEF Pacific. She manages a multi-country programme on multi-sectoral coordination, policy development, and quality services for young children and their families.