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Children as BioVisionaries: We call on you to join us

LYON, 14 March 2007 –  Ten children from developing countries today challenged scientists, business leaders and civil society at the BioVision World Life Sciences Forum to work with children to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Urgency is the key word, the audience gathered in Lyon, France, was told.

“Our communities cannot afford to wait for another generation to break the cycle of poverty,” the children said in their “Call to Action” presented to the 4,000 attendees. “We need to act now and urge you to join us.”

The young people, aged 14 to 17, came from Burkina Faso, China,  Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Laos, Malawi, Morocco, occupied Palestinian territories, Philippines, and Tajikistan.  For the past week, they have been taking part in the first UNICEF-BioVision Children’s Forum in preparation for their presentation to the adult participants. 

Their days have been filled with seminars, meetings and public events such as a breakfast debate with Nobel Prize winners on Sunday, a Rhône River water testing demonstration, and a tree planting with the Mayor of Lyon on Monday.  They met several times with young scientists as part of the Bio.nxt fellows program sponsored by the BioVision organizers.

The young people have shared information on the projects on which they work in their own countries.  One young man from China, Wang Hao, is working with other young people to clean up a polluted river in his hometown of Shanghai using an approach that combines technically sophisticated equipment with biological innovations. Irene Phungho from Kenya and Alizeta Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso are working on forestation projects. Like many of the young people at the BioVision Forum, they have received offers of help and advice from the adult participants.

All the young people have learned about the links between their own work and the Millennium Development Goals. With the BioVision forum focusing on such issues as health, agriculture, nutrition and the environment, the children addressed those topics in their Call to Action by: demanding a restoration of the environment including tree planting, water quality testing and waterway clean-up; calling for the inclusion of children and young people in the creation of safe water and sanitation facilities; stopping unsafe dumping of waste; and establishing environmental laws.

“We are not asking for the moon.  We are simply asking to be considered as partners in development efforts to ensure healthy food, safe water and sanitation to all children and to live a world of peace,” the Call for Action affirms.


UNICEF is on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

Attn: Broadcasters – B-roll and VNS of the children is available on thenewsmarket.com/unicef and later tonight on APTN through its feed:  www.un.org/unifeed

For further information, please contact: Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, 001 917 378 2128 or BioVision  Nathalie Cayuela, 06 12 45 95 91, nathalie.cayuela@kaelia.fr
Anne Gabotto, 04 72 82 26 40, anne.gabotto@kaelia.fr





11 March 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo reports on a breakfast meeting between children and Nobel Laureates at the BioVision Forum in Lyon, France.
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