Today the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted at the United Nations. World leaders of all 193 UN member states agreed on the new universal development agenda to accomplish by 2030. The 17 goals include commitments on ending poverty and hunger, improving gender equality and access to health and education, and combating climate change. In the last two years, more than 8 million people from 194 countries were involved in defining these goals.
The scale and ambition of the agenda presents an unprecedented powerful opportunity to truly improve the daily lives of children and youth. And this is needed; the world is home to the biggest youth generation ever. There are 2.2 billion children in the world; they shall be the ones most affected by the outcomes of the SDGs.
Sustainable development starts with educated, safe and healthy children, who are able to grow up in supportive and peaceful societies. At KidsRights, we therefore welcome in particular the agenda’s strong commitments to education, healthcare, and eliminating violence against children and child labour. We also greatly appreciate the dedication to ensure girl empowerment and to provide a legal identity for all, including birth registration. They are all basic rights for children, as set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
To transform the commitments made on paper today into real improvements tomorrow action is required! There is an urgent need to close the gap between international decision-making processes and the local day-to-day realities of children and youth. To ensure children and youth are not left behind when implementing the SDGs, their best interests and participation should be a key priority every step of the way. Moreover, targeted investments are needed for specific groups of vulnerable children and youth, such as those who flee conflict to live as refugees, who live on the streets and children and youth living with disabilities. KidsRights recommends:
Access: Enabling children and youth to access and understand the universal commitments made. KidsRights commits to reach out to children all around the world through online and offline activities with child and youth-friendly explanations of the SDGs.
Investment: Investment in child and youth (led) initiatives in support of their contributions to sustainable development as changemakers. KidsRights shall continue to support children's rights projects and organisations across the world, targeting diverse groups.
Participation: Structurally engaging children and youth in decision-making processes affecting their lives, including the implementation and evaluation of the SDGs. We need to get the views and ideas of children and youth on the table and make them count. Only then shall they be able to hold their governments accountable. KidsRights, The KidsRights Youngsters and our partners will continue to promote the empowerment of children and youth to act for sustainable development in their communities and beyond.
Information: High quality, accessible, current data needs to be available to assess how the world's challenges impact on diverse groups of children and youth ánd to enable measurement of progress. Measurement should go beyond the objective situation and should also include people’s perceptions on certain issues. The global indicator framework proposal expected in March 2016 shall prove crucial in this regard. The KidsRights Index contributes to the accessibility of existing, authoritative and comparable data on the state of children’s rights around the world. It also draws attention to the fact that much needed data in children’s rights areas are still lacking and more could be done with existing available data.
In 2030, the SDGs shall be judged on what they have achieved for us, the people, in our day-to-day lives. Most significantly, they shall be judged on what they have done for the most vulnerable and marginalised groups among us, the world's children and youth.
KidsRights commits to contribute to a future world that recognizes the remarkable abilities, skills and potential children and young people have. Without full recognition of their authority and active role in achieving the SDGs, we shall leaving them behind, risking our joint future as a whole.