Belgium is the world’s eighth-best country in which to bring up children, according to an expert panel including the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The report was compiled by the panel, headed by the WHO, the medical journal The Lancet and the United Nations children’s fund Unicef.
The document, titled A future for the world’s children?, begins however with a sobering statement: “No single country is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their futures. The health and future of every child and adolescent worldwide is under immediate threat from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at children.”
The report creates an index to measure the extent to which children are “flourishing,” developed on the basis of indicators of health and wealth reported by 180 countries, as well as future threats to children’s well-being as measured by greenhouse gas emissions.
Belgium comes in at number eight on that scale, behind (in order) Norway, South Korea, the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Denmark and Japan, and just ahead of Iceland and the UK to complete the top ten.
“We also complemented the profile with existing measures of economic equity,” the report says. “The poorest countries have a long way to go towards supporting their children’s ability to live healthy lives, but wealthier countries threaten the future of all children through carbon pollution, on course to cause runaway climate change and environmental disaster. Not a single country performed well on all three measures of child flourishing, sustainability, and equity.”
Although Belgium comes in the top ten for child welfare, the country slips to number 158 for sustainability, particularly its carbon emissions, which are measured at 8.76 tonnes per person per year – more than double the amount set by the UN as being the limit to allow achievement of the climate goals for 2030.
As things stand at present, the report concludes, the only countries that are on target for climate goals while also scoring in the top 70 for child welfare are Albania, Armenia, Grenada, Jordan, Moldavia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay and Vietnam.
The Brussels Times