22 September 2017

Investing in the early years: a roadmap for sustainable futures

This high-level event—held at the “EWEC Hub” at UNHQ in the margins of the UN General Assembly—highlighted the importance of cross-sectoral investments in a child’s earliest years to address inequality, break the cycle of poverty, and improve outcomes later in life. Through a series of discussions, speakers noted the long-lasting impact of these “human capital investments” and encouraged urgent action to capitalize on them. Several countries also showcased their own experiences, providing concrete examples of interventions from Uganda, Norway, Chile and Estonia.
Hosted by the Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN)Every Woman Every Child (EWEC), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children (EVAC), Sanitation & Water for All (SWA), the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, UNICEF, the World Bank Group and the World Health Organization (WHO), this event brought together a number of partnerships from different sectors to highlight the power of cross-sectoral, multi-stakeholder partnerships to protect and promote full childhood development.
The event also saw the launch of UNICEF’s new Early Moments Matter for Every Child report, which details a six-point action agenda on ECD to galvanize greater commitment for action at country-level by governments and businesses. The session served as a key advocacy moment ahead of the Nurturing Care consultations that UNICEF and WHO will co-host to develop a Nurturing Care framework that will be launched during next year’s World Health Assembly, which will include a special focus on ECD. 
The session was moderated by Ms. Julie Gichuru, host of the African Leadership Dialogues, with the participation of the following speakers:
  • H.E. Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia
  • Dr. Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director
  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General
  • Dr. Keith Hansen, Vice President for Human Development, World Bank Group
  • Ms. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO, Save the Children International
  • Hon. Florence Nakiwala, Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, Uganda
  • Ms. Tone Skogen, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway
  • Dr. Helia Molina, former Minister of Health and Advisor to H.E. President Bachelet, Chile
  • Ms. Diana Amini, Global Manager, H&M Foundation
  • Ms. Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President, Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop, together with Chamki from Sesame Street India
A child’s earliest years present a window of opportunity to address inequality and achieve sustainable development for all. Quality health, education, nutrition, protection and nurturing care at the right time in a child’s life, enables healthy brain development, which improves children’s capacity to learn and increases their productivity in adulthood. Individually, each of these sectoral investments is important but, on their own, they’re insufficient to create positive holistic change in the life of a child. Collectively, however, these human capital investments are greater than the sum of their parts and will create healthier, more prosperous and resilient societies for generations to come.