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