‘A Future for the World’s Children’ report

 A future for the world’s children is the first comprehensive, independent report to reposition every aspect of child health through the lens of our rapidly changing climate and other existential threats. The launch of a major new report on child health and well-being is done by an independent WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission. 

About the report

  • The report, ‘A Future for the World’s Children’, assesses the threat to the health and future of every child and adolescent from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol, and tobacco at children.
  • This report calculates the Flourishing Index and Sustainability Index of 180 countries.
  • Flourishing is the geometric mean of Surviving and Thriving. For Surviving, the authors selected maternal survival, survival in children younger than 5 years old, suicide, access to maternal and child health services, basic hygiene and sanitation, and lack of extreme poverty. For Thriving, the domains were educational achievement, growth and nutrition, reproductive freedom, and protection from violence.
  • Under the Sustainability Index, the authors noted that promoting today’s national conditions for children to survive and thrive must not come at the cost of eroding future global conditions for children’s ability to flourish. The Sustainability Index ranks countries on excess carbon emissions compared with the 2030 target.

What is the position of India?

India secured 131st rank on a flourishing index that measures the best chance at survival and well-being for children and 77th on a sustainability index that takes into account per capita carbon emissions and the ability of children in a nation to live healthy lives.

Findings of the report

  • Every child has the right to health, education, and protection, and every society has a stake in expanding children’s opportunities in life. Yet, around the world, millions of children are denied a fair chance for no reason other than the country, gender or circumstances into which they are born.
  • Poverty affects children disproportionately. Around the world, one out of five children lives in extreme poverty, living on less than US$1.90 a day. Their families struggle to afford the basic health care and nutrition needed to provide them a strong start. These deprivations leave a lasting imprint; in 2019, 149 million children under the age of five were stunted.
  • Despite great progress in school enrolment in many parts of the world, more than 175 million children are not enrolled in pre-primary education, missing a critical investment opportunity and suffering deep inequalities from the start. 6 out of 10 leave primary school without achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, according to a 2017 UNESCO report. This challenge is compounded by the increasingly protracted nature of the armed conflict.
  • At least 1 in 3 children under 5 is undernourished or overweight and 1 in 2 suffers from hidden hunger, undermining the capacity of millions of children to grow and develop to their full potential.
  • The triple burden of malnutrition – undernutrition, hidden hunger, and overweight – threaten the survival, growth, and development of children, young people, economies and nations.
  • The triple burden of malnutrition is driven by the poor quality of children’s diets: 2 in 3 children are not fed the minimum recommended diverse diet for healthy growth and development.
  • Globalization, urbanization, inequities, humanitarian crises and climate shocks are driving unprecedented negative changes in the nutrition situation of children around the world.
  • Improving children’s nutrition requires food systems to deliver nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable diets for all children.
  • Food environments are crucial. When healthy options are affordable, convenient and desirable, children and families make better food choices.
  • Investing in nutrition for children and young people is a cornerstone investment if the world is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
  • Norway leads the table for survival, health, education and nutrition rates – followed by the Republic of Korea and the Netherlands.
  • The Central African Republic, Chad and Somalia rank at the bottom. It also mentioned that the world’s survival depended on children being able to flourish, but no country is doing enough to give them a sustainable future.

What are the Recommendations put by this report?

The report suggests the elimination of CO2 emissions with the utmost urgency and requests to place children and adolescents at the center of global efforts to achieve sustainable development. New policies and investments are required in all sectors to work towards child health and rights with the incorporation of children’s voices into policy decisions.