September 23 2015

UN urged to ensure SDG indicators count world’s most vulnerable children

“All children count, but not all children are counted” says a group of child-focused organisations

Some of the world’s leading children’s organisations, including SOS Children’s Villages, have called on the UN to ensure that children without parental care are monitored and counted as part of its global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda.

The SDGs – set out in the document, Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - will guide the allocation of billions of dollars in international assistance over the next 15 years. A special session of the United Nations General Assembly is meeting on 25-27 September 2015 to formally adopt the agenda.
Although the goals have been agreed, how the world measures progress is still to be decided. A critical accompanying framework for global monitoring is being developed by the Inter-Agency Expert Group on the SDGs. NGOs and other civil society bodies have been encouraged to give their views on the ‘Indicators’ which will make up the monitoring framework and allow progress against the goals to be assessed.
Having good data about vulnerable children is essential to understand their needs and to mobilise resources appropriately.
In a joint open letter to the Inter-Agency Expert Group, children’s NGOs and leading disability-rights organisations have appealed to the UN to ensure that children living outside of households and/or without parental care are included in the monitoring framework. Over thirty organisations are signatories besides SOS Children's Villages, including the Better Care Network, Child Fund Alliance, Columbia Group for Children in Adversity, Hope & Homes for Children, J.K. Rowling’s NGO Lumos, and Global Alliance for Children, among others. The final set of indicators is expected to be completed by early 2016.
Leave no child behind
Children’s organisations have long recognised that we do not know how many children live outside of households and/or without parental care and almost certainly under-estimate the totals. Rough estimates indicate that at least eight million children, the vast majority of whom have at least one living parent, are without adequate care and protection. A central aim of the SDGs is that no-one will be left behind by global development. But NGOs have argued that the absence of reliable mechanisms for counting children outside of households and/or without parental care and measuring the impact of interventions to transform their lives, raises the risk that some children will, indeed, be left behind.
The letter to UN Expert Group states: “All children count, but not all children are counted. As a result, some of the world’s most vulnerable children – those without parental care or at risk of being so; in institutions or on the street; trafficked; separated from their families as a result of conflict or disaster; or recruited into armed groups – have largely fallen off the UN’s statistical map. There are only limited data about how many children live in such precarious circumstances, except for scattered estimates from some specific countries.”
Make the vulnerable visible
The letter’s recommendations include:
  • To ensure that children living outside of households and/or without parental care are represented in disaggregated data
  • To improve and expand data collection methodologies to ensure all children are represented
 “The post-2015 global monitoring framework offers an opportunity to do more and better on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable children – ensuring, first and foremost, that they are no longer invisible,” the letter concludes.

Read more news about the work to achieve the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.