The first Children’s Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) gathered 30 child authors and other children from Latin America, Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, the Middle East, and North America to discuss how they can help to implement the newly adopted Goals. Participants finalized the 2015 Children’s Declaration on the World’s SDGs, which will be presented to UN officials. Children around the world drafted the Declaration collaboratively using social media. The authors included the finalists from the Voices of Future Generations (VoFG) international Children’s Book Series.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)’s Division for Sustainable Development and VoFG organized the Summit, which took place on 20 September 2015, in New York, US. The Summit convened under a consortium of educational charities from Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Germany, Hungary, Kenya, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Philippines, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uruguay, Zambia and other countries.
Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), called to “build peace in young minds and nurture children’s creativity” to bring about more sustainable, just and peaceful societies. Markus Gehring, University of Cambridge, called to “let children sit in the middle to discuss how they feel about their lives and how they can live better.”
Participating children gave speeches on the 17 SDGs, and discussed what world leaders should focus on, and ways of making the world a better place. Discussions concentrated on education, environment, equality and water. “The SDG that I care about most is quality education,” said Ethan, one of the children representing the Asian region, and mentioned its relationship to employment opportunities. Jona, the young author of ‘The Epic Eco-Inventions’ and ‘The Great Green Vine Invention,’ said, “Children’s voices can tell others about problems. But most importantly, we can also become part of the solution.”
In addition to the 2015 Children’s Declaration, other outcomes of the Summit include: a ‘VoFG Collection’ of children’s thoughts on how to implement the SDGs and children rights, gathered from the process of developing the Declaration and during the Children’s Summit discussions; a child-friendly VoFG website on sustainable development, children’s rights and climate justice, which will make the interactive materials used at the Summit available; and six New Children’s Books written by children from Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, Small Island States, Europe and North America, translated into six UN languages, to educate children on sustainable development and children rights.
Launched in November 2014 on the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and partnering with the UN, the VoFG’s International Children’s Book Series is an international series of books by children, for children, that are being published from 2014 to 2022. The child authors are aged 8-12. The books seek to highlight and promote public awareness of the CRC and the Rio+20 outcome document, ‘The Future We Want.’ [DESA Press Release] [Children’s Summit Concept Note] [VoFG Children’s Book Series]