“Climate change, ecological degradation, migrating populations, conflict, pervasive inequalities, and predatory commercial practices threaten the health and future of children in every country,” a new report warned.
Not a single country on the planet is properly working to ensure safety, wellbeing, health and suitable environment for their children, a report released Wednesday by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The Lancet, found.
“Despite dramatic improvements in survival, nutrition, and education over recent decades, today’s children face an uncertain future,” the report said.
“Climate change, ecological degradation, migrating populations, conflict, pervasive inequalities, and predatory commercial practices threaten the health and future of children in every country.”
The authors of the report recalled that successful societies invest in their children’s futures and protect their rights. However, many politicians and governments in the world still do not consider such an investment as a priority.
Even in rich countries, many children, especially in marginalized groups -including indigenous people and ethnic minorities- still suffer from hunger or live in conditions of total poverty.
Researchers based their work on the observation of and recommendations for four key areas: the investment in children’s health and education, greenhouse gases, the issue of “commercial harm” done to children, and the role decision-makers ought to play to protect children.
One of the most dramatic observations were made regarding climate change.
“We live in an era like no other. Our children [...] stand on the precipice of a climate crisis,” the report said. It recalled that though impoverished countries still have a lot to do to provide their children with healthy lives, wealthy countries are threatening the future of all the children in the world through carbon pollution.
Another observation was about the largely negative impact the commercial sector has on the well-being of children in all countries, with companies promoting “addictive or unhealthy commodities,” such as fast-food, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and social media.
The authors recommended that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) adopt a new protocol to protect children from commercial harm.
“Children around the world are enormously exposed to advertising from business, whose marketing techniques exploit their developmental vulnerability and whose products can harm their health and wellbeing,” read the report.
The authors concluded by reminding that the world’s countries agreed in 2015 on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to leave future generations with a cleaner and healthier world. Yet the SDG agenda is so far still paralyzed, the researchers deplored, proposing a new global movement to place children at the center of these goals.