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Approach and rationale

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What is Report Card 17?

Report Card 17 is the latest in a series of reports that the UNICEF Innocenti – Global Office of Research and Foresight has produced over the past two decades, comparing and contrasting child well-being in many of the richest countries in the world (countries that are members of the OECD and/or European Union). Report Card 17 focuses on how factors within the natural and built environments affect children’s present and future well-being.

The full report is accessible in several languages here.

How were children involved in the making of Report Card 17 and in producing the artwork on this site?

In July 2021, children in five countries were consulted to inform the Report’s initial framework.

Once the Report was prepared, the UNICEF Innocenti team engaged with children again, supporting them to create material reflecting their experiences and opinions in order to enrich and promote the Report Card topics.

Children and young people in seven different high- and middle-income countries created the artwork composing the multi-media library available on this site over the course of workshops organized by the UNICEF National Committees and Country Offices.

With the support of a Toolkit including several instruments (guidelines for discussion, participatory activities to explore the publication, consent forms, etc.), UNICEF staff discussed the UNICEF-Innocenti Report Card 17 with children and adolescents and talked about their specific experiences in relation to the environment, as well as local and global environmental challenges. This discussion was the basis of creative activities, during which the participants filmed videos, wrote and illustrated stories, took photos, and developed written or audio captions for their artworks.

The material presented here was created by approximately 150 children and young people aged 6-18 in various countries (Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Italy, New Zealand) and across many demographic groups, including Roma in informal settlements, Indigenous people, those affected by asthma or other respiratory diseases, those living in highly polluted urban areas, young activists, and migrant children.

How does UNICEF engage children in its work?

This initiative builds on the vast experience and strong tradition of child participation of UNICEF National Committees and Country Offices, who in many cases have been undertaking child participation initiatives regarding children’s rights to a healthy environment.

The work presented here provides a platform to promote such initiatives and give them international visibility, enhancing the understanding of children’s points of view and prompting reflections on the actions that need to be taken to improve both their present and their future.

Why is consulting children important to enrich research and analysis of child well-being?

Seeking children’s perspectives enables UNICEF to fill gaps in the broad national statistical picture created by the Report Card. Such statistics cannot allow for an in-depth understanding of issues faced by children within specific local context or by groups of children who may face distinctive issues or disadvantages – such as children with disabilities, Indigenous children, and Roma, Sinti and Travellers.

The material created by children can serve as a reminder to adults, particularly policymakers, that people under 18 are not a homogenous group and have all different views and needs. Children’s creations are intended to trigger adults’ curiosity and attention towards the needs, experiences and perceptions of those who are less represented.

Why is consulting children important to promote policy action on the environment?

Young people globally have demonstrated remarkable interest in fighting climate change and promoting more sustainable lifestyles in recent years. The environments children live in deeply affect their present lives – their journeys to school, the condition of their homes, the green spaces in their neighbourhoods – as well their futures. Children will face current environmental challenges for the longest time but have the least direct influence on policy decisions.

At UNICEF – Innocenti, we hope that involving children in the Report Card 17 process will offer an opportunity to connect the results of rigorous quantitative research with the voices of children, whose wellbeing is ultimately at the centre of our research and policy efforts.