01 February 2024

Prospects for Children in 2024: Cooperation in a Fragmented World

A tale of two futures, As we enter 2024, the world stands at a pivotal juncture. We can choose a path marked by increased global collaboration – a path that embraces innovation, knowledge sharing, policy transfer, and equitable growth. Or, there's a different course that could be taken, one which might entail less unity and a more protectionist approach, potentially…, 1. Geopolitical shifts and the risk of conflict may threaten children’s survival and well-being – but avenues for accountability and cooperation hold promise., In 2024, major powers will continue competing to expand their military, political, economic, and technological influence globally, including within multilateral institutions. Meanwhile, small and middle powers, including many in the Global South, are distancing themselves from confrontation between the major powers by forging new, flexible…, 2. Economic fragmentation threatens families’ livelihoods, children’s development and youth employment – but economic solidarity, market collaboration and investing in future skills can safeguard children’s rights and futures., Economic fragmentation, often driven by geopolitical interests and strategic considerations, is projected to widen disparities between nations in 2024. This unravelling of global economic integration threatens to undermine years of prosperity, progress, and innovation. It also adds fiscal pressure at a time when child poverty is rising in many…, 3. A fragmented multilateral system is not delivering on key issues for children – but it has a chance to reset its course in 2024 through global governance and financing reforms., The year 2024 will be pivotal for addressing a fragmented multilateral system that is failing on issues such as peace, security, climate change, financing for developing countries and the enforcement of normative standards – all of which can have an impact on children and their rights. Many countries, especially those in the Global South, believe…, 4. Developing economies still face structural inequities in the international financial architecture, limiting their ability to invest in children – but reforms to lending approaches and new technologies offer hope., Structural inequities in international financing will continue to limit developing countries’ investments in children in 2024. Excessive debt burdens, high remittance costs, overreliance on unpredictable economic monetary policies, and lack of voice in financial governance penalize poorer states. Debt crises triggered by these factors hurt…, 5. Global democracy will face unprecedented risks presented by disinformation and higher levels of political violence – but positive forces, including those led by children and youth, may still reverse the democratic decline., Democratic backsliding and youth dissatisfaction with democracy have been unfolding for years. But in 2024, as many nations face critical elections, two concerning trends emerge. First, advances in the digital technology for large language models and generative AI have introduced dangerous new disinformation capabilities that can create convincing…, 6. Fast-tracking transition to green energy is reshaping critical mineral and labour markets – if managed responsibly, cooperatively and justly, it can benefit children., In 2024, the accelerated transition to green energy will continue. This transition will be driven by volatility in energy markets, growth in the deployment of clean energy technology and policy imperatives like the development of new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). A faster shift to green energy brings significant benefits to children…, 7. El Niño, mosquito-borne diseases and water scarcity threaten children’s health and well-being – but greater collaboration, holistic programming and technological innovation can mitigate the negative impacts and protect children., Throughout 2024, climate change will continue to pose many threats to children’s health and nutrition. Three key forces stand out: the continuation of El Niño; the rise in outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases due to climate change; and water scarcity. The 2024 El Niño could be even hotter and more dangerous to people and the planet than in 2023.…, 8. Potential impacts of unchecked technologies spark fear and concern for children’s well-being – but proactive policy and global digital cooperation can place children at the centre of responsible design and regulation., The digital environment continues to shape children’s lives. Advances such as artificial intelligence (AI) bring new opportunities for children's learning, health care and development. Because new technology also poses risks for children, striking a regulatory balance will be a 2024 priority for three main reasons: First, apprehension about the…