Our children or our planet?

Childhood flourishing

What does the future for children growing up look like? Is it possible to have both an environment that is nourishing and also sustainable for the planet? Last week, A future for the world’s children? A WHO–UNICEF–Lancet Commission was published in the Lancet. It explores environments conducive to childhood flourishing in 180 countries of the world. Children’s rights were broadly grouped as:

  • The right to be educated
  • The right to be heard
  • The right to be healthy
  • The right to be protected
  • The right to be treated fairly

How did the UK rank?

The UK ranked 10 out of 180 for providing an environment where children are able to flourish. Not too bad on first glance. However, the outlook is bleak when looking at sustainability and the environment. It seems as though countries are forced to choose between an environment ripe for children to flourish and an environment that flourishes.

Let’s explore this a bit further.

The data

We took data from the Lancet article and mapped some key variables against each other to get a better overall picture of the report’s findings. Three elements of the data were used: the childhood flourishing index, CO2 emissions per capita and performance in comparison to the 2030 CO2 targets for the 180 countries included in the report. These were then visualised into a long infographic below. There are interesting patterns for the top 10 and bottom 10 performing countries.


Important note: Of course we acknowledge that correlation does not necessarily equate to causation.

The infographic

Our children or our planet? Youthsmarts infographic

The story

  1. Children are most likely to flourish in higher income countries.
  2. Higher income countries are often some of the biggest polluters.
  3. Higher income countries are generally not the ones meeting the 2030 C02 emissions targets.
  4. None of the top 10 countries of the childhood flourishing index are currently meeting the 2030 CO2 targets. All 10 of the bottom countries currently do.
  5. It looks like no country is currently is achieving the best of both worlds: an environment for children to flourish in and sustainability for our planet.

Clearly, there is work to be done to tackle this apparent inverse relationship between our children’s future and sustainability for out planet.

Surely in the long-term they are one and the same?

We create infographics and data visualisations on a number of topics related to young people and children. See our other posts on faith, social media use and 13 reasons for teen counselling.

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