A Future for the World’s Children

Read the report here

See the launch on 19th February  here

Industry self­-regulation does not work, and the existing global frameworks are not sufficient. A far stronger and more comprehensive approach to regulation is required.”

“Unregulated commercial activity poses many well documented threats to children, not least environmental ones. However, commercial marketing of products that are harmful to children represents one of the most underappreciated risks to their health and wellbeing (panel 8). We have examined the harms children suffer from commercial marketing, looked at the insufficiency of voluntary regulation, and propose a political process to control commercial marketing to children by developing an Optional Protocol to the CRC (ie, an additional component to the treaty that must be independently ratified).”


On February 19th, the  WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission, made up of leading child health experts from around the world, produced a landmark new report on child health and well-being. The report, A future for the world’s children? constitutes the first comprehensive, independent report to reposition every aspect of child health through the lens of our rapidly changing climate and other existential threats.  The report details critical, emerging risks to child health; proposes novel solutions; and calls for urgent action to achieve measurable results. Progress on indicators of child health and well-being is currently stalled across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but can be jump-started with the right focus, leadership, involvement, policies and investment.

It is the result of more than two years of work by 40 child health experts from around the world, led by Her Excellencies Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Awa Coll-Seck, Minister of State of Senegal.

It details critical, emerging risks to child health; proposes novel solutions; and calls for urgent action to achieve measurable results.

The launch was live streamed here with coverage on social media, @WHO.  There were many excellent presentations and questions from the audience  that are well worth listening to. Here are just a few notable ones.

Dr Anthony Costello (move to 0.59) former WHO Director of Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (and former Baby Milk Action Director and current Advisor) started off saying that he was independent so could say what he thinks. He then delivered  a stinging attack on those responsible for global warming and those investing in them, asking why the lack of support for carbon taxes and renewable and local foods, conservation agriculture etc. Why an 11 fold increase in obesity,  the sale of data – without permission – through children’s social media such as Talking Tom (with 14.3m subscribers)  to Facebook and Google who then target them with ads,  commercial marketing generally and finished with an appeal for brave politicians who will listen to the science and evidence.  (He later (move to 1.47) point about independence – you have to be diplomatic – if we want them to do what you want them to do – Member States should double their contributions to WHO and UNICEF.)

Anna Maria Suarez Franco, FIAN (move to 1.27) gave an excellent sum up of the need to address the corporate capture of the political space, the need for policies to respect Human Rights to food and Health, and put marginalised people at the centre, and provide tools to help protect against commercialisation. She also mentioned the work on Human Rights Commission  for a Treaty for the Human Rights abuses of transnational corporations to be regulated.

Lena Mahy (1.38) WHO Nutrition and Food Safety, asks whether Dr Costello is suggesting that only those who are independent can speak out – surely everyone should.

Elena Jablonická (1.32) from the Slovak Republic Mission to the UN, mentions the need to address marketing including breastmilk substitutes.


Read the press release here


This high-level event will include a discussion with leading experts, government officials and civil society.

  • Dr Helen Clark, former Prime Minister, New Zealand; Commission Co-Chair
  • Dr Awa Coll-Seck, Minister of State, Senegal; Commission Co-Chair
  • Ms Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF
  • Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization
  • Dr Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief, The Lancet
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