Photo: © Firoz Ahmad Firoz
April 29 2014

Children and the Post-2015 Development Agenda

In an exclusive round-table meeting at the UN on post-2015 development, SOS Children´s Villages CEO Richard Pichler argued that issues related to children should receive direct and powerful attention – and ambitions should be high.

(New York) - On 8 April 2014 a select group of ambassadors and CEOs from the leading child-focused NGOs were invited to a meeting at the United Nations to discuss the post-2015 agenda. SOS Children´s Villages CEO Richard Pichler was among the participants calling for children to be placed at the centre.

As 2015 marks the final year of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and also the year that post-2015 development frameworks will be decided, priority setting is already well-underway. SOS Children´s Villages is leveraging its vast experience in caring for the most vulnerable children to influence the orientation of development policy and to advocate for the rights and welfare of the child at risk.

At the meeting Mr Pichler stressed the importance of eradicating child poverty. He reasoned that discrimination against children cannot be addressed by targets and interventions alone; a comprehensive plan and multi-pronged approach are necessary to get at the root causes of child suffering.

He listed some of the biggest issues concerning children´s well-being, including hunger; stunted growth; newborn, child and maternal mortality; lack of universal access to health services and education; and violence against children. As serious and widespread as these issues still are, the SOS Children´s Villages CEO said he believes it is possible to resolve them in the next 30-40 years – if the right actions are taken today and prioritised in the post-2015 goals and targets.

Children only have 10-12 years of childhood... we’ll miss their future if we do not address the issues that concern their well-being today,” he said.

UN meeting on children and the Post-2015 development framework, 8 April 2014. SOS Children´s Villages CEO Richard Pichler is second from left. Photo: S. Garcia-Garcia

Mr Pichler also noted that how children are treated today is how they will treat the elderly in the future.

Underscoring his point, Kevin Jenkins, President & CEO of World Vision International, said the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for post-2015 would only be “truly developmental and sustainable” if children´s issues are at their centre.

Mr Pichler asked that the world´s governments identify the most vulnerable groups of children and ensure that post-2015 goals and targets are evaluated against their impacts on children. Child protection has been named as a fundamental priority for the post-2015 development framework.

While the magnitude of resources needed to ensure adequate protection and quality care for all children at risk is not fully understood, it is estimated that trillions of dollars are needed to ensure that the framework actually delivers for children.

Mr Pichler also stressed that while addressing child rights adequately in the post-2015 development framework will cost trillions, not addressing them will be even more costly, as the damage caused will be irreversible and draining on public services, and lost opportunity costs will be even higher.

A combination of factors, such as poverty, illness, natural disasters, war and challenging socioeconomic factors, can lead to a situation where parents struggle to care for their children. As a result, children can end up neglected and abused. Or children might be separated from their parents and families and left to fend for themselves.

Vulnerable children in developed and developing countries alike are exposed to a cycle of poverty, discrimination, violence and social exclusion, with consequences that endure into adulthood. To eradicate poverty and close inequity gaps, the new development framework must tackle the causes of this vicious cycle.

SOS Children’s Villages advocates for a development framework that addresses the needs of families at risk of separation and supports policies that prioritise the needs of children and young people who have lost parental care. This will yield multiple benefits, in the short and long term, that impact both individuals and society at large.

Based on over 60 years of experience and operations in 133 countries, SOS Children’s Villages strongly believes these recommendations will make the post-2015 agenda a solid foundation for sustainable development.