18 February 2020

A Future for the World’s Children? A WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission


A major report on the health and well-being of children: ‘A Future for the World’s Children? A WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission will be launched on 19 February in Geneva.

It is the first comprehensive, independent report to re-position every aspect of child health through the lens of our rapidly changing world. It is the result of more than two years of work by 40 child health experts from around the world, led by Her Excellencies Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Awa Coll-Seck, Minister of State of Senegal.

Despite dramatic improvements in survival, nutrition, and education over recent decades, today’s children face an uncertain future. Climate change, ecological degradation, migrating populations, conflict, pervasive inequalities, and predatory commercial practices threaten the health and future of children in every country. In 2015, the world’s countries agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), yet nearly 5 years later, few countries have recorded much progress towards achieving them. This Commission presents the case for placing children, aged 0–18 years, at the centre of the SDGs: at the heart of the concept of sustainability and our shared human endeavour. Governments must harness coalitions across sectors to overcome ecological and commercial pressures to ensure children receive their rights and entitlements now and a livable planet in the years to come.

Several key takeaways are evident:

  • Early investments in children’s health, education, and development have benefits that compound throughout the child’s lifetime, for their future children, and society as a whole.
  • Political commitment at executive level is needed to coordinate across sectors and leverage synergies across the life course, ensuring universal health coverage; good nutrition and food security for all; thoughtful urban planning; safe and affordable housing and transport; clean energy for all; and equitable social welfare policies.
  • Our understanding of progress on child health and well-being must give priority to measures of ecological sustainability and equity to ensure we protect all children, including the most vulnerable.
  • There’s need to call for the development of an Optional Protocol to the CRC, to protect children from the marketing of tobacco, alcohol, formula milk, sugar-sweetened beverages, gambling, and potentially damaging social media, and the inappropriate use of their personal data

Read the entire report

Communication materials:

  • The livestream is available on Wednesday, 19 February 2020; 14:00 CET – 16:00 CET (8:00AM – 10:00 AMEST)
  • Launch event speakers:This high-level event will include a discussion with leading experts, government officials and civil society.
    • Dr Helen Clark, former Prime Minister, New Zealand; Commission Co-Chair
    • Dr Awa Coll-Seck, Minister of State, Senegal; Commission Co-Chair
    • Ms Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF
    • Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization
    • Dr Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief, The Lancet
  • To promote the report launch, find the stakeholders communication toolkit here
  • For  more information on the campaign, visit the website