"The Future We Want": Learning from children’s experiences of sustainable development


Children bear much of the brunt of the human impacts of environmental shocks and climate change, not only on account of their age and stage of development, but because more children live in poverty than do other age groups. Unpredictable and extreme weather, such as droughts and floods, rising pollution levels, poor access to sanitation and other public services, combined with global economic instability, are undermining children’s healthy development and reinforcing the poverty cycle.

This policy brief explores some of the ways in which families and children relate to their environment. It considers the impact of environmental and other shocks, food price fluctuations, and poor-quality living environments on children and young people. Understanding children’s perspectives, and those of their families, is essential in shaping polices, particularly those seeking to deliver on the outcomes of Rio+20. The Rio+20 discussions foreshadow discussions on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and whatever framework is put in place beyond 2015. Children and their families’ experiences illustrate the need to connect sustainable development with poverty eradication. The paper uses Young Lives quantitative and qualitative data from four countries (Peru, Ethiopia, India and Vietnam) to demonstrate children’s vulnerability as a result of environmental insecurity, and to highlight children’s hopes and concerns for the future.


Pells, K. "The Future We Want": Learning from children’s experiences of sustainable development. (2012) 14 pp. [Available in English, Spanish and Portugese]

Published 1 January 2012