No single country is doing enough to protect children’s health, environment, or future according to a report released by the World Health Organisations, UNICEF and the Lancet Commission.
Entitled “A Future for the World’s Children?”, the report shows that every child in the world is under immediate threat from climate change, ecological degradation, and exploitative marketing practices that push unhealthy living, tobacco and alcohol. Despite improvements in child and adolescent health over the last 20 years, this progress has stalled and is predicted to reverse, according to the report.
It has been estimated that some 250 million children in low and middle-income countries are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential due to, in part, stunting and poverty. The report states that countries need to overhaul their approach to child health to ensure not just that children are looked after today, but that the world they will inherit in the future is protected.
A total of 180 countries were analysed for the report in terms of child flourishing, health, education, nutrition, sustainability, and matters related to climate change.
Countries whose children have the best chance of survival include Norway, South Korea and the Netherlands, while those in the Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger and Mali have the worst odds.
Albania ranks at number 69, below Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Uruguay, but above Grenada, Uzbekistan and the Maldives. Regionally, Turkey, Serbia, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro all fare significantly better.
“More than 2 billion people live in countries where development is hampered by humanitarian crises, conflicts, and natural disasters, problems increasingly linked with climate change,” said Minister Awa Coll-Seck from Senegal, Co-Chair of the Commission. “While some of the poorest countries have among the lowest CO2 emissions, many are exposed to the harshest impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Promoting better conditions today for children to survive and thrive nationally does not have to come at the cost of eroding children’s futures globally.”
The authors of the report have called for specific recommendations including stopping CO2 emissions, placing children at the center of efforts to achieve sustainable development, new policies to improve child health and rights, include children’s voices in policy decisions, and crack down on harmful marketing practices.
“This report shows that the world’s decision makers are, too often, failing today’s children and youth: failing to protect their health, failing to protect their rights, and failing to protect their planet,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization said. “This must be a wakeup call for countries to invest in child health and development, ensure their voices are heard, protect their rights, and build a future that is fit for children.”