Sustainable development starts and ends with children and young people

UNICEF calls for a renewed Social Contract to create equal opportunities for all children and young people

09 March 2022
Representative Deyana Kostadinova
UNICEF Srbija/2022/Djakovic

Kopaonik, Serbia, 9 March 2022 - The poverty experienced by children and young people has long-lasting impacts on their health, education, socialisation and future employment. Children from poor families experience a disproportionate share of deprivation, disadvantage, bad health, and bad school outcomes. If we do not break the poverty cycle, there will be high economic, social and political costs to be paid.

This was one of the main conclusions made by Deyana Kostadinova, UNICEF Representative in Serbia, at today's plenary session of the Kopaonik Business Forum, the country’s most influential economic gathering, which was also attended by Darija Kisic Tepavcevic, Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs.

“Child and adolescent rights are under grave threat. Progress on child-related Sustainable Development Goals indicators is lagging due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and complex humanitarian crises. We can and must step up to mitigate those threats! If we fail to improve this situation in the COVID-19 recovery period ensuring that it is inclusive for all children the cost of inaction- economic, social and political costs to be paid will be huge,” said Deyana Kostadinova.

Investing in children and youth, especially in those who are vulnerable and marginalized, can help promote an equitable, inclusive society, allowing more people to effectively participate in the economic development. 

“We need a renewed Social Contract between the Government, business, civil society, cities and municipalities, and international organizations like UNICEF to create equal opportunities for all children and young people,” concluded Kostadinova.

If children and young people have access to health, quality and inclusive education, equitable use of digital technology, digital literacy, skills development, access to internships and mentorships, as well as voluntary work, the result will be improved productivity, which will ultimately bolster the country’s social and economic prospects.

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