BILLUND, Denmark, September 28, 2021--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Yesterday the 76th session of the UN General Assembly ended and while world leaders met in New York, children from most of the world held their own general assembly in Billund, Denmark. The children’s message to world leaders was clear. Children should have more say in the challenges our planet is facing. According to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, now they will.
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Photo of the submission of the children’s manifesto. Photo: Emil Jakobsen
Roughly 60% of the world’s young people feel betrayed by world leaders. In recognition of children’s lack of influence on the world’s great challenges, 13-year-old Dicte Ø. Christensen invited children from all over the world to hold their own general assembly in Billund. The Children’s General Assembly in Billund took place at the same time as the UN General Assembly last week. More than 500 children from more than 40 nations met physically and digitally. From Billund, Capital of Children, the children presented their ideas for a better future to world leaders.
In their manifesto, the children stress the grave global problems their generation will face in the future.
"One billion children live in poverty and without access to basic necessities. 617 million children will never receive a proper education. Children make up two thirds of the world’s refugees. One in seven children has mental health problems. And all children are affected by the consequences of climate change," explained 15-year-old Mankgara Maime from South Africa in her speech in Billund.
The children’s manifesto focuses on climate change, education for all and poverty, and calls for world leaders to spend more time and money on education than on defence. They also request more investment in green energy and technology than in economic growth.
The manifesto was received by official representatives from Canada, South Africa, the Netherlands, France and Denmark.
"As adults, we often think about how we teach children democratic values and processes. However, after listening to the children in Billund today, I think we can learn as much from them as they can from us," says Mogens Lykketoft, former Chairman of the UN General Assembly, who moderated the discussions with the children.
Following the Children’s Summit, the UN Secretary-General gave a speech to the UN General Assembly, in which he promised children and young people more say:
"Some 60% of young people feel betrayed by their governments. Young people need a seat at the table. The contributions of young people will be central to these summits in the future."
The children from the Children’s Summit welcome the initiative of António Guterres and look forward to tangible action on the part of world leaders. However, the children’s work has only just begun. Not only have they requested more action on the part of politicians; they have also promised to follow up on the pledges they have been given. Consequently, next year’s Children’s General Assembly will set the stage for evaluating how far we have actually proceeded. That is the message from the Children’s General Assembly in Billund.
Read more about the Children’s General Assembly at https://capitalofchildren.com/da/bornenes-topmode/
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Charlotte Sahl-Madsen, CEO of CoC Playful Minds
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