On 07 July 2016 UN Sustainable Development Goal child ambassadors, goodwill ambassadors and child authors gathered at the Houses of Parliament in London for the launch of the seven books that currently comprise the Voices of Future Generations Children’s book series.
In a very special event, jointly hosted by the Voices of Future Generations initiative and the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, expert speakers from leading international foundations, together with UN agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF and UNEP, engaged in dialogue with the children. This intergenerational learning circle included the Voices of Future Generations child authors from around the world, UN SDG child ambassadors and special delegations of children from local schools who came together to share their ideas about how they would address the Post-2015 SDGs and about the world they would like to live in.
All of the children contributed brilliantly, offering their inspirational and insightful views on issues such as gender equality, climate change, human rights and access to education, amongst other deeply important topics. Several key themes emerged. The children present keenly emphasised the need for all children around the world know their rights, as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They called for better recognition of their right to have a voice and to express their opinions. Working together was deemed crucial and the children appealed to adults for help and support in achieving their goals for building a better world. It was also overwhelmingly important to the children that all people should strive more for a sustainable world and less for beyond personal gain. As one of the children said, “once given a voice, we will speak, and once listened to, we will move forwards in the goal to give every child rights”.
The Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative empowers children to take action and to amplify their voices for the promotion of their rights globally and their rights in international sustainable development. The World Future Council is a trusted supporter in the consortium of educational charities which assists the Initiative.
Through the Voices of Future Generation’s Children’s book series and through inter-generational learning circles, children’s summits and other mentorship events, Voices of Future Generations enables children to express their opinions on global issues that concern them, allowing them to become involved in affecting change, shaping their future and that of future generations.
The Child Authors presented their newly published storybooks with excitement and explained how their story plots and characters relate to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and SDGs:
- Jona David, representing North America and Europe, has written two books called The Epic Eco-Inventions and The Great Green Vine Invention. In these books Jona addresses the Sustainable Development Goal of climate action.
- Lupe Va’ai’s book The Voice of an Island speaks about how people can work to save their environment from the impacts of air pollution, rubbish burning, littering and mangrove destruction, addressing the SDGs of climate action, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption, life below water and life on land. Lupe is from Samoa, where her book is based.
- The other child author representing the Pacific Islands is Tyronah Sioni, who has written about the Sustainable Development Goals of equality, specifically gender equality, in her book The Visible Girls.
- Diwa Boateng’s book The Forward and Backward City addresses many Sustainable Development Goals in its story about equality between people, equal and fair communities, and the impacts of corruption. Diwa represents Africa.
- Lautaro Real, from Uruguay is one of the child authors representing Latin America. His book, The Species-Saving Time Team looks at the Sustainable Development Goals of climate action, life below water and life on land.
- The other Latin America child author is Allison Hazel Lievano-Gomez, author of The Sisters’ Mind Connection, a book which sensitively addresses innovative ways to deal with communication with children of all abilities, addressing the Sustainable Development Goal of reduced inequalities.
- Anna Kuo from Taiwan represents Asia. Her book ‘The Fireflies After The Typhoon’ speaks to Sustainable Development Goals of life on land and reduced inequalities.
A 2016 Future Generations Inspiration Award was presented to keynote speaker Professor Kirsten Sandberg by the child authors, in recognition and acknowledgement of the inspirational work she has done on the United Nations Committee to the Rights of the Child behalf of children globally. The children from school delegations won gold and silver medals for their contributions to education, science, human rights, the environment, creativity, global citizenship and sustainability. For the winners from UK schools, see www.voicesoffuturegenerations.org.
The following day Mary Robinson joined child authors, goodwill ambassadors, and representatives from the Voices of Generations initiative and Bloomsbury Publishing assembled at the Landmark Hotel, London, for an inspiring and engaging roundtable discussion about the issues addressed in their books and how they relate to the CRC and Post-2015 SDG’s. Conversation also turned to intergenerational equity and how this can be addressed and achieved.
A 2016 Future Generations Inspiration Award was presented by the child authors to Mary Robinson, to thank her for being an inspiring global mentor to both the children present, children around the world and for future generations, on whose behalf she campaigns for a better future.