A group of 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world has found that the world is failing to enact measures to tackle ecological degradation and pass on a “liveable planet” to children, reported The Guardian.
Put together by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and medical journal The Lancet, the commission predicts that “today’s children face an uncertain future,” with every child facing “existential threats” due to climate change, ecological degradation, migrating populations, conflict, pervasive inequalities, and predatory commercial practices.
The commission’s report includes an index of 180 countries that compares a variety of factors, including well-being, health, education, sustainability, nutrition, and income gaps.
Despite improvements in children survival, nutrition, and education in the past couple of decades, the health and future of every child in the world is at stake, according to the report.
The report outlines that the 2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs) agreed upon by various countries has not yet been met, with few nations showing any progress at all.
The commission is also worried about marketing strategies that are exposing children to lifestyles that include large amounts of fast food and sugary drinks. These commercial practices have been linked to increased childhood obesity, shooting from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016.
When taking into account health and survival in the early years, Norway, South Korea, the Netherlands, France, and Ireland were found to be the best countries for a child to thrive. However, when per capita CO2 emissions were examined, the same top countries fell behind.
“Norway ranked 156, the Republic of Korea 166, and the Netherlands 160. Each of the three emits 210% more CO2 per capita than their 2030 target.”
Just nine countries were found to be on track with their per capita CO2 targets by 2030: Albania, Armenia, Grenada, Jordan, Moldova, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay, and Vietnam.
The report concluded that while the poorest countries needed to do more to support their children’s ability to live healthy lives, excessive carbon emissions — disproportionately from wealthier countries — were the biggest threat to the future of all children.
UNICEF’s chief of health Stefan Peterson noted that despite their small carbon footprints, children in poorer countries were facing the brunt of climate change.
“These children face enormous challenges to their health and wellbeing, and are also now at the greatest disadvantage due to the climate crisis. We need sustainable gains in child health and development, which means that big carbon emitters need to reduce their emissions for all children to thrive, poor and rich.”
The commission calls on the world’s governments to prioritize measures that ensure children receive their rights and entitlements to a liveable planet not just now, but also in the years to come.