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  • Skribentens bildSuzanne Axelsson

The story of the future for the world's children.

The report "The Future of the World's Children" commissioned by WHO, UNICEF and The Lancet, can be read in its entirety here.

It is a long text about how, around the world, adults are failing children, and the need for immediate action to create a sustainable future for ALL children. Making sustainable choices in everything we do is essential. What materials and resources we buy as educators also has an impact. We need to pause a moment and also consider our consumption within the classroom, our behaviour and attitudes towards sustainability, the environment, nature and children - and the future. We need to be thinking about the CRC (Convention of the Rights of Children) and how they connect to our role as educators... are we upholding them or not, what adjustments do we need to do to be able to uphold them all?

Here are a few quotes from the report, in case you do not have time to read it. There are a lot of points missing, these quotes far from lift all the important points raised...

"We require a holistic view of the child, defined here as a person aged 0–18 years old, whose wellbeing is at the centre of humanity."

"Sustainability is for and about children"

"The case for putting children at the centre of the SDGs is based on their rights, sustainable economic development, a life course approach to wellbeing, and the notion of intergenerational justice and fairness. Furthermore, making children the human face of the SDGs helps us define progress towards sustainability"

(SDG = Sustainable Development Goals)

"We asked children aged 6–18 years to describe what made them feel happy and healthy in focus group discussions with indigenous Māori communities from rural New Zealand; disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods in Lebanon; relatively affluent communities from Ibadan, Nigeria; and very poor communities from La Plata, Argentina (appendix pp 1–2). In all settings, children cited key themes, such as family togetherness, safety from violence, clean environments, and access to culture and education, as most important for their happiness"

"“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” said Benjamin Franklin, and a rich body of theoretical and empirical literature describes how interventions in early childhood generate higher returns than remedial actions later in life. Early childhood, when brain plasticity and neurogenesis are intense, is a vital period for cognitive and psychosocial skill development.25 Decades of developmental psychology research have reported the highly interactive process through which children develop the cognitive, social, and emotional capacities that are foundational for school achievement and adult economic productivity.26 Investments and experiences during the early childhood period create the foundations for lifetime success."

"Yet an estimated 250 million children younger than 5 years old in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential.40 At the same time, we know what children need for healthy development: nurturing and responsive care to promote their health, nutrition, security, safety, and opportunities for early learning.41 Children with disabilities or an impairment of functioning require screening and early interventions so that they too can reach their full potential. Follow-up studies of children exposed to poverty, from a wide range of countries, show the beneficial effects of early childhood interventions for adult earnings, cognitive and educational achievement, health biomarkers, reductions in violence, reduction of depressive symptoms and social inhibition, and growth (eg, increasing birthweight and head circumference) in the subsequent generation."

"To thrive at school, children must be healthy and well nourished."

"Intuitively, and with some evidence, children’s physical activity increases with access to safe roads, parks, and recreation areas, and decreases with traffic and crime exposure.81,82 The idea of playability as a stimulus to exercise is receiving interest.83 Children have a right to play,84 and require spaces to do so. Neighbourhoods that are protected from traffic and have green spaces are more conducive to outdoor play and physical activity.78 Some evidence shows a positive effect of green space on cognitive development and mental health,85,86 and that green space is associated with improved obesity-related health indicators.87 Given concerns about non-communicable diseases and obesogenic environments, modifying the food environment and increasing exercise are urgent, but the evidence base for action is small"

"Families can also be the locus of violence in a child’s life, in part because of structural issues, such as discrimination and poverty, with consequences across the lifespan of the child and for society. This is particularly the case for girls and young women, as well as children who have non-conforming gender identities and sexual orientations. More than 1 billion children—half of all children—are exposed to violence every year,125 including about six in ten children worldwide who are subjected to violent discipline by their caregivers on a regular basis.126 The enduring effect of violence against children is well known, including increases in the risk of injury, mental health problems, sexually transmitted infections and reproductive health problems, and non-communicable diseases—including cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes.127 Violence against children also begets further violence: high proportions of incarcerated people experienced violence as victims before becoming perpetrators, representing costs to society as well as to children themselves. A cross-sectional study of more than 36000 US men and women suggested that nearly half of antisocial behaviours in adults could be accounted for by harsh physical punishment or maltreatment when they were children.128 Society has a responsibility to protect children from violence within families, but worldwide government intervention into intimate family situations for child maltreatment falls heaviest on marginalised populations, including indigenous families, and racial and sexual minorities. Further, domestic violence is more concentrated in communities that experience poverty and street violence and have poor access to services, yet the harm done to children by family separation, particularly for indigenous and minority populations, must also be understood as a type of structural violence. But the converse is also true: a poorly functioning social welfare and justice system regularly fails children who need to be removed from parents who abuse them, a fact rarely explicitly acknowledged by policy makers."

"Equity is essential to ensure that efforts to promote children’s present and future flourishing truly leave no one behind. The child flourishing and futures profile paints a picture of differences in achievement between countries. However, equity within countries across multiple axes, including geographical, social, ethnic, gender, and indigenous versus non-indigenous populations, is just as crucial. But data on these inequities is often scarce, meaning that within-country differences are often obscured, even though these often dwarf inter-country differences."

"We live in an era like no other. Our children face a future of great opportunity, but they stand on the precipice of a climate crisis. Working together, the world’s countries have agreed to the SDG framework to usher future generations into a cleaner, healthier world, but the SDG agenda has yet to gain traction. Our challenge is great and we seem to be paralysed. This Commission proposes a new global movement to place children at the centre of the SDGs. The CRC is the world’s most ratified human rights treaty, showing the power of children to unite us for the common good. Working to improve children’s health and wellbeing can motivate all of us to save our planet for them and for ourselves."

"The evidence is clear: early investments in children’s health, education, and development have benefits that compound throughout the child’s lifetime, for their future children, and society as a whole. Successful societies invest in their children and protect their rights, as is evident from countries that have done well on health and economic measures over the past few decades. Yet many politicians still do not prioritise investing in children, nor see it as the foundation for broader societal improvements. Even in rich countries, many children go hungry or live in conditions of absolute poverty, especially those belonging to marginalised social groups—including indigenous populations and ethnic minorities. Too often, the potential of children with developmental disabilities is neglected, restricting their contributions to society. Additionally, many millions of children grow up scarred by war or insecurity, excluded from receiving the most basic health, educational, and developmental services. Decision makers need a long-term vision."

"Children and young people are full of energy, ideas, and hope for the future. They are also angry at the state of the world. Worldwide, school-children and young people are protesting about environmental threats from fossil fuel economies. We must find better ways to amplify their voices and skills for the planet’s sustainable and healthy future. The SDGs require governments to place children at the very centre of their plans to address this crisis."

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