Daniel Toole ist Leiter des UNICEF-Regionalbüros für Ostasien und Pazifik – einer Weltregion mit boomenden Wirtschaften und wachsenden sozialen Ungleichheiten. Anlässlich des 60. Geburtstags von UNICEF Deutschland spricht er über gemeinsame Ziele, Erfolge und aktuelle Herausforderungen im Kampf gegen Armut und Ungleichheit.
“Let me begin by saying THANK YOU Germany. (…). The world is a better place than it was 60 years ago. Together we have contributed to that progress. The clearest sign that the world is a better place is child survival. In 1970, around 16.9 million children in the developing world died before their 5th birthday every year. The latest data shows this number has fallen to 6.9 million per year – still too many, but that means that Tens of Millions of children’s lives have been saved.
I’ve worked for UNICEF for 25 years and (…) I’ve seen first hand the extraordinary generosity of the German people – particularly in the many emergencies I have worked in.
In 2013, about 1/4 of our work is still in emergencies and that is likely to continue with global warming and continued conflicts. But most of our work is broader and that work is in over 130 countries helping to ensure that all children’s rights are attained, regardless of where they live. In short, our work is about All Children, All Rights, Everywhere.
In the years what’s needed and the means to achieve it has changed
Asia – where I work now – is an economic powerhouse. Europe looks to Asia for growth and for markets, and Asia looks to the world for raw materials, markets and increasingly to influence. There are Armani and Prada stores in Beijing, hi-tech business is booming in Bangkok and people use the latest phones from Asia. Growth has driven massive improvements in the lives of hundreds of millions of people in Asia.
But behind the Dragon and the Tiger economies lies another reality: the reality of too many children and too many families. About 75% of the world’s poor and vulnerable children now live in middle-income countries, and Asia is home to more than half of the world’s children.
Asian economies are growing fast but their governments are struggling to deal with rapid change, massive urbanization, uneven skills and capacity, and fragile infrastructures. The result is huge and even growing disparities.
Those who suffer most are the poorest families
For UNICEF, disparities and discrimination are not numbers or theories – they are children. Booming Indonesia has the world’s third highest number of un-immunized children! Oil rich Timor Leste has one of the highest level of stunting – or chronic malnutrition – in the world. Two-thirds of all natural disasters occur in Asia and the Pacific, and those who suffer most and most often are the poorest families. Yet despite these problems, the image of economic growth means decreasing donor support. Aid is disappearing from Asia “ready-or-not”.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a promise made to children – not to governments or countries. And it is made to all children everywhere. Not just to children who are easy to find or easy to help.
Building child friendly economies in child-friendly societies
So we at UNICEF are redefining the way it works. With your help we are making the children who are most difficult to reach our priority. In Asia our job today is to link economic growth and wealth to activities that make the world a better place for every child. We do this by making disparities visible and providing evidence that leads to better laws and successful action – by leveraging donor funds and national budgets and private sectors profits to build child friendly economies in child-friendly societies. Let me give you one example from China: UNICEF invested $8 million piloting a low cost, community driven model of early childhood development in 29 Chinese counties from 2001-2009 helping pre-school children be “ready for school”. Hard evidence shows it makes a lifelong difference. We presented the results to the government and in 2010, the State Council announced some $7.8 billion in investment for universal pre-school access by 2020. That’s impact! That is changing the lives of every child in China – and that will change the future of our world. This is UNICEF in the 21st century.
Thank you Germany!
Anniversaries are important. We look back and we also look forward. We look at achievements and we think about the future. Here we should all look back and say thank you, well done! Thank you Germany, thank you (…) all who support the belief that every child has the same rights. To those who have been willing to contribute to that goal. Thank you.
We must also look forward (…). We want a world where every child and every young person receives the start in life. If every child survives and thrives, we will have succeeded. Only then we can rest. But this must be true for EVERY child. Even in the economic powerhouses of East Asia, there is too much poverty, too much pain and too little hope for far too many. There is a lot left for us to do. Until that day, we are right to reflect on what we have achieved with pride. And we must also use this occasion to renew our commitment.
The children left behind need us to be energetic, to be at our most creative, and to be absolutely determined. The future is theirs, not ours.”