Norway, South Korea and the Netherlands ranked in the top three, respectively, on current child “flourishing,” but those countries were 156th, 166th and 160th, respectively, on the global sustainability index that measured carbon emissions.
Some countries had lower, yet still high, excess carbon emissions levels, but those countries did not rank well on the “child flourishing index” in the report.
For instance, Burundi, Chad and Somalia ranked first, second and third on the sustainability rankings but 156th, 179th and 178th, respectively, on the “flourishing” rankings.
“I was hoping and thinking that at least some countries somewhere must be doing the right thing for children now and the right thing for children in the future, but I saw no country was in that ideal place and that quite surprised me,” Dr Peterson said.
The “child flourishing index” was developed specifically for the new report, he added.
The index was based on an aggregation of country-by-country data on various factors to measure child flourishing, including child survival rates, years of school, teen birth rates, maternal mortality, prevalence of violence, growth and nutrition, among other factors.
“We looked at what extent children are able to fulfil their potential,” Dr Peterson said.
“It’s about knowledge, growth, going to school and learning and it’s about being protected from violence. We tried to look holistically.”
Most of the data used came from previous research, including some UNICEF resources.
To improve outcomes among children, the report calls for countries to stop excessive carbon emissions, tighten regulations around commercial marketing of junk food, alcohol and other harmful products, introduce new policies to protect children’s health, nutrition and rights, and incorporate children’s voices into policy decisions, among other recommendations.
“This report shows that the world’s decision makers are, too often, failing today’s children and youth: failing to protect their health, failing to protect their rights, and failing to protect their planet,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“This must be a wakeup call for countries to invest in child health and development, ensure their voices are heard, protect their rights, and build a future that is fit for children.”
Top 10 rankings on the child flourishing index:
Norway, ranked first overall
Australia was ranked Number 20.
The bottom 10 rankings on the child flourishing index, according to the report were:
Central African Republic, ranked last overall at No. 180
When it came to measurements of sustainability, the report found that the top 10 rankings were the countries of:
Burundi, ranked first overall
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Australia ranked Number 174, the 7th lowest ranking overall.
The bottom 10 rankings on sustainability were:
Qatar, ranked last overall