The vicious cycles perpetuating poverty and disadvantage across generations have enormous economic, social and environmental costs. Ending them is essential for a sustainable future. Above all this requires urgent and radical action to tackle the deep-seated inequalities causing child poverty.
The future wellbeing and indeed survival of increasing numbers of children across the world is more and more at risk. Already too many children are growing up in poverty and the perpetuation of poverty from one generation to the next is deeply entrenched.
Poverty disproportionately affects households with children: children are twice as likely to live in extreme poverty as adults. Globally, approximately 800 million children aged 0–18 years are subsisting below a poverty line of US$3.20 a day, and one billion children are experiencing multidimensional poverty, with multiple deprivations in the areas of health, nutrition, education or standards of living, including housing.
Child poverty and the Intergenerational Perpetuation of Poverty (IGPP) are now being compounded by the impact of climate change. Around one third of the world’s child population is living with the dual impacts of poverty and high climate risk. With the devastating effects of extreme weather destroying livelihoods and communities and leading to mass migration, more and more children are at risk. The current spate of heatwaves, megafires, deadly floods and landslides in many countries across the world is bringing the reality of the climate crisis to the doors of more and more children. It is no longer just a remote disaster that has been destroying lives and communities in many parts of the developing world and trapped them in poverty and a struggle for survival. It is now an existential threat to the future wellbeing of children in all countries, developed and developing.
The challenges posed by the climate crisis, the persistence of child poverty and the IGPP, are inextricably bound together and to tackle one we must tackle the others. They share a common origin: an economic system based on excessive consumption by some when others lack access to essential goods and services and cannot meet their basic needs, and the deeply unsustainable use of natural resources. Positive social change that will transform our societies and build an inclusive economy is vital to addressing these three challenges.
One of the keys to such a transformation and to building a sustainable future will be to tackle inequality and ensure real equality of opportunity for all. Above all, this will require intensifying action to end child poverty as this is essential to creating equality of opportunity for all and ending IGPP.