Sustainable development as a way to improve the quality of life for future generations?
In 2015, the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals set in 1990 passed. It was an opportunity to summarize and ask questions about further goals. However, are the Sustainable Development Goals an opportunity to reach children in need? Will their implementation really improve the quality of life for future generations?
The Millennium Development Goals have allowed tremendous progress to be made in improving the situation of children in the world. Since 1990, 2.6 billion people have gained access to clean water, the mortality rate of children under the age of 5 has fallen by more than half, and the number of malnourished babies has decreased by 41%. Unfortunately, despite these achievements, children from the poorest families are still twice as likely to die before the age of five than their peers from wealthier families. They also have much less chance to learn reading.
With the current progress and the world’s population growth, it is estimated that:
- by 2030, the number of children who will die of preventable diseases will increase by 68 million;
- in 2030, 119 million children will be malnourished;
- in 2030, half a billion people in the world will not have access to sanitary facilities;
- almost 100 years will pass before all girls from poor families living in sub-Saharan Africa have completed secondary education.
Turning obligations into action
According to UNICEF, it is the wellbeing of the most vulnerable children that should be taken into account first. The organization suggests streamlining the data collection process, which can help identify children most at risk of exclusion. At the same time, a better education, medical and social care systems are crucial in helping more children. In turn, smart investments tailored to the needs of children can bring both short- and long-term benefits.
An example of specific activities is the registration of children after birth, which UNICEF actively supports and promotes. At the same time, it is one of the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims at ensuring legal identity for all persons.
Another example is the “The Declaration of Cologne”, which was signed by over 100 mayors from 40 countries, including Poland, in October this year. The signatories have committed to improving the living conditions of children in cities, increasing their chances for development and look after the well-being of children. The event took place during the first international Child Friendly Cities Summit – the UNICEF initiative. This is one of the few examples of accelerating progress in achieving Sustainable Development Goals at the local level.
The real measure of our actions will be every child who stops living in poverty; every mother who survives childbirth; every girl who will not lose her childhood because of an early marriage. Ensuring equal opportunities for children today means greater global progress tomorrow.
Last Updated on February 1, 2021 by Karolina Ampulska