"Throwing rubbish in nature is not good for the Earth.”"Plastic is not OK!""Lots of flowers and lots of nature make people pure."
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Workshop outcomes

In 2021, blood samples taken from residents in the vicinity of Zwijndrecht showed abnormally high levels of the chemical PFOS after a company polluted the soil around the factory with this chemical substance. UNICEF Belgium decided to talk with the children from this region and let them share their experiences, emotions and opinions on the "places and spaces" around them.

In July 2022, 71 children aged between 6 and12 years participated in a workshop organized by the UNICEF team in partnership with the Child Rights Coalition Flanders. The children were in summer camp with their youth movement. The participants used polaroid cameras to take pictures answering these questions:

  • Can you take a picture of something that has changed around you because of climate change and environmental degradation?
  • Can you take a photo of a space in your neighbourhood that you really like? And another of a space in your neighbourhood that you don't like?
  • Can you take a picture of a space where you can relax, concentrate, think and feel good?

The pictures were used as the starting point for 5 focus group discussions. At the end, in a collective exercise, the children selected the pictures you can see here and developed their captions.

Children & their Environments: Key Statistics

Where Belgium has a foundation to build on

Low levels of overcrowded housing

Belgium has relatively low (13th out of 38 countries) levels of overcrowded housing, with only 6 per cent of households experiencing overcrowding.

High spending on environmental protection

Belgium has a relatively high level of expenditure on environmental protection – more than 1.2 per cent of GDP, the 4th highest among 40 countries.

Where Belgium needs to step up policy efforts

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Elevated levels of lead in children’s blood

8 per cent of children in Belgium have elevated levels of lead in their blood – the 4th highest level out of the 43 countries in the report.

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Emits high levels of CO2

Belgium emits high levels of CO2 (based on consumption) of around 15 metric tonnes per person per year – the 5th highest out of 43 countries.

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High rates of consumption

If all people in the world consumed at the same rate as the average person in Belgium, we would need 4.1 earths to sustain this consumption.

4.1 Earths

Workshop Partners

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