Children do not have a secure future – climate reporters °

Even in rich countries, children often do not grow up in a healthy environment. Many of these states also make life difficult for children in other regions of the world. It shows a Unicef ​​report based on data from 39 countries, also on climate change and resource consumption.


The kids need to feel better. For many, the proverb is no longer so well received. (Photo: JR Whip / Pixabay)

We overcame the pandemic at the expense of children and young people: schools closed, clubs suspended, lack of social contacts. The strong containment measures mean that health disorders in children increase drastically. The pandemic has obviously put a special strain on her.

A new study from Unicef’s research center Innocenti in Florence looks beyond the corona crisis. It shows a long-term social development with bleak future prospects for children if the countries of the world do not meet their obligations.

For children to develop well physically and mentally, they need a safe and healthy environment and an intact environment. But even in rich countries, children are highly exposed to air pollution, heavy metals and noise.

Many apartments are too dark or too humid. Cities and communities provide inadequate access to parks and green spaces. Rising temperatures, loss of biodiversity and extreme weather events are harming young people’s well-being, hampering their cognitive development and curtailing their future prospects.

For the Unicef ​​report “Children’s Environment and Environment”, data on children’s immediate and wider environment from 39 OECD and EU countries as well as data on these countries’ international contributions to climate change and resource consumption were evaluated.

A ranking on this basis shows how well the countries manage to ensure a child-friendly, safe and healthy environment and an intact environment both at home and internationally. It was about protecting the children of today and tomorrow with a minimal ecological footprint. Nine indicators were used for the ranking.

Wealthy does not mean child-friendly

The countries surveyed perform very differently on the individual criteria. No country offers consistently good conditions for children. “The majority of rich countries fail to create a healthy environment for their children within their borders, and they also contribute to the destruction of children’s habitats in other parts of the world,” said Innocenti director Gunilla Olsson.

Although some countries such as Finland, Norway, Canada and Australia can offer their children a relatively good living environment today, their high consumption of resources is a serious threat to the future of children and future generations. If all people worldwide lived as the average in the countries considered, 3.3 soils would be needed. The range goes from 1.2 soils in Colombia to eight soils in Luxembourg.

In the rich countries, the high consumption of raw materials also creates large amounts of waste – an average of 529 kilos per. person and year. The fastest growing waste fraction is e-waste, which contains toxins such as mercury, cadmium and lead.

Other countries like Costa Rica, Romania or Chile use fewer resources but offer their children a poorer environment. But even some rich countries like the United States or Belgium are not able to create safe conditions for their children.

Spain tops the rankings followed by Ireland and Portugal. These countries provide a good environment for children and contribute less to the global environmental problems in comparison.

Germany is in ninth place, but is doing particularly poorly when it comes to noise pollution. Noise has health effects on pregnancy and childbirth as well as on stress and cognitive performance in children. Poor families are particularly affected.

Trust governments

“We live in many areas at the expense of today’s children and future generations,” said Christian Schneider, CEO of Unicef, Germany. “Even in rich countries, children grow up in conditions that make them sick, impair their development and limit their opportunities in life.”

The UN Children’s Fund called on governments and businesses to take immediate action and meet their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Children’s concerns need to be addressed at all levels of decision making.

Unicef ​​has also surveyed awareness of climate and environmental issues among 15-year-olds. It is particularly high in South Korea and Germany also achieves good value. Romania is at the bottom here.

The UN organization emphasizes that children and young people are very committed to environmental protection and sustainability and play a growing role in regional and international climate dialogues.

According to a study in six wealthy countries, almost half of young people are so concerned about their environment that it affects their daily lives and their life satisfaction. Three out of five respondents believe that their government does not protect the environment enough. Due to the climate crisis, two out of five are unsure whether they want children themselves.

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