Placing Children at the Heart of the Sustainable Development Agenda

New York, 18 July 2017 - Joining a conversation with leaders during the High Level Political Forum, SRSG calls for sound investment in children to end child poverty and violence against children, stressing that "the best way to leave no child behind is to place children first".

SRSG Santos Pais today joined a high-level side-event where leaders discussed the intersection between ending poverty and violence against children and their crucial contribution to the achievement of the SDGs. The event was jointly hosted by the SRSG, UNICEF, the Governments of Indonesia and Sweden and high profile speakers included the President of Chile, the Indonesian Minister of National Development Planning, the Swedish Minister of Public Administration and the Minister for Social Affairs of Chile.

In her statement, the SRSG recalled the ambition of the Sustainable Development Agenda is to build a world which invests in children and in which every child grows up free from want, from fear and from violence.

"Violence against children takes place in all settings and in all countries, even those that are economically affluent; but that where poverty is pervasive, the risk of neglect, abuse and exploitation can become particularly acute. Children living in communities where family incomes are low and jobs are few, in impoverished neighbourhoods with insecure and inadequate housing, and limited access to basic social services of quality, are all more likely to experience violence in their lives. As families struggle, children can become more vulnerable to neglect and exploitation. They may be pressed to drop out of school, either to avoid fees or to work to contribute to the household’s income. Girls are at high risk of being drawn into hazardous activities, such as domestic service, as well as forced into sexual exploitation; they may even be forced to marry” she said.

The SRSG also noted the long-term impact on children and the high costs to individuals and society. Violence and deprivation have a cumulative impact on children’s development and well-being and contribute to a vicious cycle of poverty and abuse. "Investing in children is crucial to reverse this pattern. But there is still a long way to go. While half of those living in extreme poverty are children and half of the world’s children are affected by violence each year, national resource allocations as well as ODA for these fundamental dimensions of children’s wellbeing are seldom a priority" she said.

In closing, the SRSG stressed that ending violence against children is an ethical and legal imperative that also makes economic sense by helping to break the vicious cycle of inter-generational poverty and violence. It is also the urgent demand of children that compels us to accelerate progress towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. “As I so often hear during my missions, it is the voices of children urging us to bring an end to violence and marginalization that is our most compelling and urgent reason for action. And only by placing children at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, and at the centre of all we do to achieve its implementation, will we realize its vision of a world free from fear and violence!” 


UNICEF Press release: New Indonesia report highlights critical role of ending child poverty and violence to achieving sustainable development