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Press Centre (1/2013)

Put young children at the centre of global development efforts, say experts


Istanbul, January 24th, 2013 Experts and practitioners from Turkey and neighbouring countries will this week invite World leaders to put Early Child Development at the centre of sustainable and equitable global development. The appeal is contained in the Istanbul Declaration, which was approved at a two-day meeting in Istanbul on the theme of "Early Childhood Development: The Future We Want for All Children".

The meeting, which opened today, forms part of a broad United Nations-led global consultation process on what is known as the Post-2015 Agenda – that is, the new international development priorities and goals to be set following the Millennium Development Goals deadline in 2015.

“Robust data”

Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Dr. Kadir TOPBAS told the Istanbul gathering that he would present the Istanbul Declaration at the forthcoming meeting of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda High-Level Panel meeting in Liberia. The High-Level Panel, of which Mr Topbaş is a member, advises the UN Secretary General. The mayor added that he also took it as his duty to promote Early Childhood Development efforts in Turkey.

Speaking at the same event, UNICEF Turkey Representative Dr. Ayman ABULABAN explained that investment in early childhood guaranteed the principles of equality/equity in social and economic development and would ensure the sustainability of investments in human development. Both the economic and the scientific data were robust, he noted. He added that these principles also formed the basis of the world we want for our children and all humanity.

Post-2015 Agenda

The member states of the United Nations initiated the Post-2015 Development Agenda process at the Millennium Development Summit in September 2010. As part of this process, a wide range of stakeholders including non-governmental organisations, universities, the private sector and public institutions have been discussing what global development will look like after the Millennium Development Goals. In short, they are seeking an answer to the question: “What future do you want?”

The Millennium Development Goals have succeeded in reducing poverty and child mortality, improving children’s nutrition and expanding the provision of basic education. However, these achievements need to be consolidated, both in Turkey and in the World. Moreover, further effort is needed to create an inclusive social and economic development model to eliminate inequalities. Poverty, for example, continues to affect the physical, mental, social and emotional development of many children.

National consultation meetings on the Post-2015 Development Agenda have been taking place in more than 50 countries including Turkey. The national consultation reports are to be presented to UN Secretary General by March 2013.

Early Childhood Development

In 2011, a special issue of the world-famous medical journal The Lancet argued that investment in Early Childhood Development is the most effective way of reducing the factors, such as poverty, inefficiency of health care services, lack of nutrition and poor quality education, which prevent children from fulfilling their potential. In parallel with the development of the brain, social intelligence also develops primarily during this stage of life, and the child develops the skills to communicate with other children and be successful at school. Healthy early childhood development contributes to the child’s capacity for self-protection and helps to eliminate gender inequality in public life.

The Istanbul Declaration

The Istanbul Declaration sets out the measures which need to be taken urgently in the area of Early Childhood Development as part of the Post-2015 Agenda, and invites all world leaders to cooperate. The full text of the Declaration will be available via www.unicef.org.tr and www.ibb.gov.tr as of January 28th.