Protracted conflict, the climate crisis, a rise in mental illness and online misinformation among biggest emerging threats to children

In an open letter marking 30 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF’s Executive Director sounds the alarm on major growing and future challenges facing children

18 September 2019
Henrietta Fore

Protracted conflicts, the worsening climate crisis, a rising level of mental illness among young people, and online misinformation are some of the most concerning emerging global threats to children, UNICEF said today in an open letter issued by the organization’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

In addition to existing threats to young people, such as access to education, poverty, inequality and discrimination, the inaugural letter warns of emerging threats to children’s rights, and outlines a path to stepping up efforts to address them. The letter is being issued as part of UNICEF’s commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of a Child – the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty.

“And your generation, the children of today, are facing a new set of challenges and global shifts that were unimaginable to your parents,” writes Fore. “Our climate is changing beyond recognition. Inequality is deepening. Technology is transforming how we perceive the world. And more families are migrating than ever before. Childhood has changed, and we need to change our approaches along with it.”

The letter outlines eight growing challenges for the world’s children: prolonged conflicts; pollution and the climate crisis; a decline in mental health; mass migration and population movements; statelessness; future skills for future work; data rights and online privacy; and online misinformation.

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