Children are both the makers and the markers of healthy, sustainable societies: UNICEF

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The outcome of the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference "The future we want" – will be dependent on children being at the heart of the post-2015 agenda, says UNICEF.

A new UNICEF position paper, Sustainable development starts and ends with safe, healthy and well-educated children, outlines three messages that are key for achieving a world fit for children – today and for future generations.

First, that the progress of children can be a major driver of sustainable development; second, children are stakeholders in a sustainable world – the ones with the most to gain and the most to lose from success or failure; and finally children can and should be major participants in and contributors to a healthy, sustainable planet.

The paper makes a direct link between what needs to be done for children today – particularly those most disadvantaged – and how this will affect the future of their countries.

For example, roughly 165 million children under five are suffering from stunting.

Exposure to violence also has dramatic and life-long implications – from brain injury and physical trauma to depression and development delays.

The stresses of climate change also disproportionately affect children. They are acutely vulnerable to environmental pollution, as their bodies and brains are still developing.

UNICEF's Senior Adviser on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Richard Morgan, says "Children and young people are the makers of a future sustainable world, and, measures of their progress will also be the markers of that world".

The UNICEF paper says the good news is that investing in children delivers big pay offs – for them, for their societies, and for the planet

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’35″

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