Child Health Initiative partners meet to discuss three years of progress, and the journey ahead

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WHO’s Nhan Tran presented opportunities for adolescent advocacy at the upcoming road safety ministerial conference in Sweden.
WHO’s Nhan Tran presented opportunities for adolescent advocacy at the upcoming road safety ministerial conference in Sweden.
WRI’s Claudia Adriazola-Steil emphasized the need to reduce speed to protect youth, a key factor in the success of many Child Health Initiative interventions.
WRI’s Claudia Adriazola-Steil emphasized the need to reduce speed to protect youth, a key factor in the success of many Child Health Initiative interventions.
UNICEF’s Jens Aerts showed how UNICEF is helping urban design policymakers improve children’s education, environment, and health.
UNICEF’s Jens Aerts showed how UNICEF is helping urban design policymakers improve children’s education, environment, and health.
Ankita Chachra of NACTO’s Global Designing Cities Initiative previewed the Streets for Kids initiative supported by a consortium of donors: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Fondation Botnar, Bernard van Leer Foundation and FIA Foundation.
Ankita Chachra of NACTO’s Global Designing Cities Initiative previewed the Streets for Kids initiative supported by a consortium of donors: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Fondation Botnar, Bernard van Leer Foundation and FIA Foundation.
Natalie Draisin discussed how the Child Health Initiative is uniquely positioned to promote the adolescent health agenda and deliver results.
Natalie Draisin discussed how the Child Health Initiative is uniquely positioned to promote the adolescent health agenda and deliver results.
CHI partners convened at the Safe Kids Worldwide Prevcon conference.
CHI partners convened at the Safe Kids Worldwide Prevcon conference.

Three years since its inception, the Child Health Initiative has convened partners to share progress towards safe and healthy journeys for children and young adults. Focusing on the Initiative’s global adolescent agenda, they discussed opportunities for collaboration and upcoming activities around the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm, Sweden.

The first initiative of its kind, Child Health Initiative partners met in Washington, DC during partner Safe Kids Worldwide’s annual Prevcon conference. Since it began in 2016, CHI has been a global platform and coordinating mechanism for targeted advocacy and campaigns advancing the rights of youth to safe, healthy, and accessible journeys. It remains steadfast in its objective to achieve such journeys for every child by 2030.

FIA Foundation Executive Director Saul Billingsley (above) provided a snapshot of the coalition’s accomplishments since it began: “From our inclusion of safe and healthy journeys to school in the UN Habitat III New Urban Agenda, to our speed vaccine campaign, London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s rallying call for child rights, and our campaign for a UN Summit on Adolescent Health featured at the World Health Assembly and in other major venues, the Child Health Initiative has made strong progress. We’ve spoken up for the rights of children to use safe streets and breathe clean air. We’ve influenced global policy and helped cities understand that prioritising children improves health for all. We look forward to many milestones on the road ahead, starting with the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm, Sweden.”

“The Stockholm Road Safety Ministerial in 2020 provides an opportunity to build momentum for child and youth mobility rights, and set an agenda to support the Global Goals,” said Nhan Tran, World Health Organization Coordinator for the Unintentional Injury Program. The Child Health Initiative will be hosting an official conference pre-event on 17th February 2020 focused on safe and healthy journeys for children and youth.

The pre-event will feature a selection of partners’ practical interventions to protect children and young adults, some of which were featured at the meeting in Washington, DC. UNICEF’s Urban Planning Specialist, Jens Aerts presented the organization’s Handbook on child-responsive urban planning to guide a systems change in how cities plan for children. The handbook supports programs on road traffic injury interventions that have been piloted in several countries, with support from a $2 million donation by the FIA Foundation, $3 million donation by Abertis, and some initial support from the new UN Road Safety Trust Fund.

Such scalable, replicable, evidence-based solutions are the foundation of the Child Health Initiative’s efforts, bringing funders together. The iRAP Star Rating for Schools app will be the first ever systematic and comparative evidence-based approach for analyzing the risk in roads around schools. Demonstrated during Prevcon, the app is scheduled to go live in 2020, and has R&D funding from FedEx and the FIA Foundation, with additional support for pilot projects from donors including Vital Strategies, Abertis, and Fondation Botnar. Fondation Botnar and Bloomberg Philanthropies also joined with FIA Foundation and Bernard van Leer to fund the NACTO Global Designing Cities Initiative Streets for Kids guide, presented at the meeting by Senior Program Manager Ankita Chachra. It will be one of the most accessible and influential handbooks for progressive urban engineering and tactical urbanism, piloted in 12 cities.

The Child Health Initiative’s efforts have gained international attention, featured in several international forums such as the United Nations and World Health Organization. Partners like Amend have been recognized for their outstanding work reducing serious injuries among schoolchildren in the lowest income urban areas of Sub Saharan Africa, winning the prestigious WRI Ross Prize for Cities.

The coalition is reaching beyond the road safety arena to strengthen connections with other inextricably linked sectors. Save the Children’s School Health and Nutrition Director Seung Lee emphasized that by supporting road safety programs from Bangkok to Beirut, CHI provides a vital connection between the organizations’ health, education, and nutrition agenda to wider issues of road safety and the environment.

“CHI recognizes that for adolescent health and rights to rise to the top of the international agenda, we must reach beyond our road safety comfort zone. With youth voices at the core, we are responding to the need to join hands with other neglected areas of adolescent health to address the funding gap and take action. We cannot afford to wait. The majority of the world’s population will live in cities in the next 10 years, and the majority of that urban population will be under 18. Cities are inevitably becoming a breeding ground for all of our issues to converge, from mental health, to obesity, road traffic injuries, air pollution, and beyond. This is why we are working with WHO, UNICEF, Plan International, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, and the UN Major Group for Children and Youth to advance an agenda for greater prioritization and funding of adolescent needs.” said Natalie Draisin, FIA Foundation North American Director & UN Representative.

The initiative strives to find synergies between partners and foster further collaboration. All attendees provided updates on their youth-related work, including: World Resources Institute, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Safe Kids Worldwide, National Center for Safe Routes to School, Fundación Gonzalo Rodriguez, ITDP, Inter-American Development Bank, and USRAP.

The Child Health Initiative activity & progress report 2016-2019 can be viewed here.