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Importance of Early Childhood Development stressed as Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas joins forces with UNICEF for post-2015 agenda

by Sema Hosta

ISTANBUL, Turkey, 24 January 2013 - Academic experts, civil society representatives and practitioners from Turkey and neighbouring countries have invited World leaders to put Early Child Development at the centre of sustainable and equitable global development.

Among those present in Istanbul on January 24th, together with Mayor Kadir Topbas and UNICEF Turkey Representative Ayman Abulaban, were World Organisation for Early Childhood Education (OMEP) president Ingrid Pramling, who is also UNESCO Chair for Sustainable Early Childhood Education, representatives from many UN and other international organisations and NGOs, as well as high-level officials from numerous Turkish government ministries.

The appeal is contained in the Istanbul Declaration, which was approved at a meeting in Istanbul on the theme of “Early Childhood Development: The Future We Want for All Children”.

The meeting, which took place on January 24th and 25th, forms part of the United Nations-led global consultation process on what is known as the Post-2015 Agenda – that is, the new international development priorities and goals to be set following the Millennium Development Goals deadline in 2015.

Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Dr. Kadir Topbas, who is a member of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda High-Level Panel, which advises the UN Secretary-General, was one of the speakers at the event. Dr. Topbas promised to present the Istanbul Declaration at the forthcoming meeting of the High-Level Panel in Liberia. The mayor added that he also took it as his duty to promote Early Childhood Development efforts in Turkey.

“Life-long impact”

Integrated early childhood development services and programmes are widely seen as critical to human development. It is during the early years of life that the brain develops most rapidly, so that children can acquire the habits and skills needed for social and educational success and self-protection. Inadequate care and stimulation in the early years of life is at the root of much human failure, inequality and poverty.

Speaking at the same event, UNICEF Turkey Representative Dr. Ayman Abulaban called for creative ideas and strategies to place the child’s development more prominently on the Post-2015 Development Agenda because of its strong link with sustainable human development. “The evidence collected so far shows that early childhood experiences have a life-long impact, which can be positive and/or negative,” he underlined.

Post-2015 Agenda

The member states of the United Nations initiated the Post-2015 Development Agenda process at the Millennium Development Summit in September 2010. As part of this process, a wide range of stakeholders including non-governmental organisations, universities, the private sector and public institutions have been discussing what global development will look like after the Millennium Development Goals. In short, they are seeking an answer to the question: “What future do you want?”

The Millennium Development Goals have succeeded in reducing poverty and child mortality, improving children’s nutrition and expanding the provision of basic education. However, these achievements need to be consolidated, both in Turkey and in the World. Moreover, further effort is needed to create an inclusive social and economic development model to eliminate inequalities. Poverty, for example, continues to affect the physical, mental, social and emotional development of many children.

National consultation meetings on the Post-2015 Development Agenda have been taking place in more than 50 countries including Turkey. The national consultation reports are to be presented to the UN Secretary General by March 2013.

The Istanbul Declaration

The Istanbul Declaration sets out the measures which need to be taken urgently in the area of Early Childhood Development as part of the Post-2015 Agenda, and invites all world leaders to cooperate. The full text of the Declaration is available via and as of January 28th.   



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