Florence, 25 May 2022 (TDI): The majority of the developed countries fail to provide a healthy environment for children. Also, they are contributing to the destruction of children’s health and the environment in other parts of the world.

The Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office of research-Innocenti, Gunalia Olsson, delivered these remarks. She shared facts from the report on Innocenti Report Card 17: Places and Spaces published by UNICEF on environmental exploitation by developed countries.

According to the report, the wealthiest countries in the world are creating unhealthy, dangerous toxic conditions for children worldwide due to overconsumption of resources.

“We are witnessing that countries that ensure a relatively healthy environment for children within their borders are the top contributors to pollutants. These pollutants are destroying children’s environment abroad,” remarked Olsson.

In contrast, the least wealthy countries in OECD and EU countries have much lower impacts on the wider world. “We owe it to ourselves and future generations to create better places and spaces for children to thrive,” said Olsson.

She underscored that mounting waste, toxic environment, and exhausted natural resources have negative impacts on the physical and mental health of the children.

The report compares the impact on children’s environment by the economic activities of 39 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU).

The indicators used to measure the impact are harmful pollutants, pesticides, toxic air, access to light, damp molds, safe roads, green spaces, international contributions to the climate crisis (INDCs), e-waste dumping, & consumption of existing resources per capita.

 Findings of the Report

According to the report’s findings, all the selected States fail to provide healthy living environments for children across all indicators. For this purpose, the report speculates that the current consumption level and resource utilization rate of OECD and EU countries need to be balanced.

Spain, Ireland, and Portugal are at the top of the least healthy countries for children. Australia, Belgium, the USA, and Canada have been ranked low on creating a healthy environment for children within and beyond their borders.

Norway, Iceland, and Finland are among countries that provide healthier environments for the countries’ children. However, they have a disproportionate impact on the destruction of the global climate.

Consequently, children have no choice but to alter their living conditions along with growing up in a toxic environment.

Threat to Children’s Health

The report shows that one in five children in Iceland, Latvia, Portugal, and the UK are exposed to dampness and mold. This number is one in four in Cyprus, Hungary, and Turkey.

Twenty million children in EU and OECD countries have elevated lead levels in their blood. Nearly one in twelve children in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Israel, and Poland are exposed to high pesticide pollution. Pesticides are one of the leading causes of Leukaemia.

UNICEF urges the national, international, local, and regional governments to improve children’s environment by reducing waste, water, and air pollution and providing better residences and neighborhoods.

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