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Patrizia is accountable for enhancing strategic partnerships between the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti and key Italian government authorities, the media, Italian Natcom, Italian-based academia and other partners to maximize visibility and uptake of knowledge and evidence products from the Office. She supports communication and convening functions, including linkages with key local media houses and academic institutions. A social philosopher by training, and a journalist by profession, Patrizia has an extensive experience in communication and advocacy. During her 30 years’ career in UNICEF Patrizia has held several responsibilities in research communication and dissemination, media relations, advocacy, events and external relations, contributing to the launches of our main flagship publications, developing innovative web tools, and managing the relationship with our Italian counterparts on several occasions, including the organization of international events and the negotiations for the new premises. She writes articles and blogs for the Innocenti website and has also conceived and managed the project of two Innocenti Insights: The Challenges of Climate Change - Children on the frontline and Children, ICT and Development: Capturing the potential, meeting the challenges, as well as of the publication For every child answers: 30 years of research for children at UNICEF Innocenti. Before joining UNICEF, Patrizia was a teacher, a translator and a free-lance journalist writing for the Italian newspaper Paese sera and the weekly magazine Bell’Italia. She holds an MA in Philosophy from the University of Florence and a Certificate in Children’s Rights from the University of Ghent. She holds the title of journalist from the Italian National Register of Journalists, and a certificate of Documentalist librarian from the Tuscany Region.
The Challenges of Climate Change: Children on the front line
As the effects of climate change become more visible and extreme, they are likely to affect adversely the lives of children and adolescents all over the world. A commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will benefit all of us - but specially children. Improving the lives of marginalized communities in developing countries means embarking on and funding low carbon development. In this book some 40 experts speak out for and with children on how to protect their future.
Children, ICT and Development: Capturing the potential, meeting the challenges
This report explores the ways in which information and communication technologies (ICTs) can contribute to efforts towards meeting child-focused development goals. It serves as a key contribution on which to build informed dialogue and decision making, developed jointly between research, policy and practice.
From the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, insights on helping families and children cope
Just as the coronavirus outbreak reached its peak in the Italian province of Lombardy a group of health care professionals, many with Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, published a short commentary which caught the attention of staff at the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in Florence. Their simple message: COVID-19 was decimating their whole town and therefore required a completely new way of fighting the disease and its multiple side-effects ripping through their community. Bergamo is a picturesque city in the Lombardy Region of Northern Italy. Its immediate surroundings form part of one of the richest and most industrialized areas in Europe. Not far from the buzzing urban centre of Milan, Bergamo is also adjacent to a series of alpine valleys near the Swiss border where, by contrast, rural communities and their traditions are well preserved. A dark nightmareIn mid-February, this peaceful community, with a pragmatic approach to life and deep-rooted traditions of care for others, plummeted into a dark nightmare whose end is still unknown. Even with one of the best standards of medical care in Europe, COVID-19 has completely overwhelmed Bergamo’s healthcare systems. The latest report of the National Institute of Statistics on mortality in Italy, based on data obtained from municipal registries, indicates that in March 2020, 5,400 persons died in Bergamo. Of this number, 4,500 deaths were apparently due to coronavirus. As reported by the local newspaper the total number of deaths is six times the number of deaths registered in the same period in 2019. The number of infected people is probably far higher than what is reported by official statistics, which are based on COVID-19 tests performed only in hospitals on symptomatic patients. According to the Italian Civil Protection agency, in March the province of Bergamo had 2,080 deaths and 8,803 infections confirmed by test swabs. Incredibly, by these statistics, the COVID-19 fatality rate in Bergamo is many times higher than the global fatality rate estimated by Imperial College London, published in The Lancet. In Bergamo almost every household contains or knows of someone who has either died or is fighting for their life due to the virus. The town has become well-known throughout Italy for the sad daily ritual of Italian military trucks transporting coffins to other regions. Local cemeteries and mortuaries in Bergamo were completely overwhelmed several weeks ago.Doctors and nurses working non-stop at the ICU of the Hospital of Vizzolo Predabissi, in Lombardy.Focus on households and communitiesIn this unimaginable situation, each day doctors and nurses repeat a titanic and unparalleled effort against the virus. In the midst of this tragedy a group of physicians, community workers and local agencies set up a ‘multidisciplinary task force’ to reflect on Bergamo’s circumstances as the epicenter of the pandemic. When the authors of this piece began to contact them to find out what lessons they might share for countries yet to follow in their path, a series of important, yet less considered ideas began to emerge. First, they consider this pandemic a humanitarian crisis which requires new actions, new models, new thinking for them as well as for the international community and humanitarian agencies. Following the traditional patient-centered approach to care is no longer enough. A community-centered care approach is needed to respond to the challenges that the emergency is posing. Developing a sustainable model can be crucially important project for the entire world, Bergamo being, at this moment, arguably among the hardest hit cities in the world. One of the first lessons they shared was the absolute necessity to reverse the ingrained idea that the hospital is where you should rush for urgent care. All too often, families repeated the mistake of speeding family members struggling to breath to the hospital, only to be engulfed in the most contagious environment possible. In Bergamo the health care community quickly realized that aggressive community-based measures were needed to identify and keep moderate cases best suited to recovery at home, as far away from the hospital as possible. From the start it became clear that households played a central role in the community response. Children - the hidden victimsIn such a dramatic situation, children and their families – especially the most vulnerable and fragile –quickly become the ‘hidden-victims’ of this crisis. Not considered at high risk of succumbing to the virus, nevertheless urgent measures to support a range of spill-over effects had to be put in place. Municipal governments and civil society groups together with psychological and health services have started to implement various channels of remote response to emerging needs. They are focusing first on relatives of hospitalized patients and health workers (“Curare chi cura”). They are also working to ensure continuity of care for vulnerable persons and children with disabilities already being assisted by health services.A family in Bergamo, Italy made a rainbow out of clothes hung outside her house, involving their children and the next door neighbours. The message on the flag says: "Courage Italy".A team of pediatric psychiatrists, also based at Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital, has conceptualized (for discussion) an ecological model to promote and support protective factors for children based on three main strands: family, community and schools. Central to this approach is the concept that the adults in children’s lives are the primary channel for most forms of care and support. In a Bergamo-type scenario almost everyone who is sick with something other than COVID-19 is unable to receive medical treatment. The implications of this are horrifying for everyone, but for children, especially vulnerable children, this can equate to lifelong consequences. This situation offers perhaps the most powerful argument of all for staying home at all costs and reducing the chance of a broken bone or a bicycle accident leading to a hospital trip and almost certain exposure of the virus. Care for children by supporting caregiversIt is crucial to look at stressors on caregivers, teachers and child social service providers and to strengthen networks across families, local institutions (municipalities), schools, social workers and physicians. These networks must be supported to maximize efforts to reach not only those children who are already receiving medical and social support, but also those children at risk of becoming invisible without a system in place to help and support them before their conditions become pathological. Many children in Bergamo live in families that have experienced one or more deaths. While grieving over lost family members, they live in fear of more infections along with deep anxiety over the loss of household income. In this setting children’s emotional needs often fade from view. They do not have adequate opportunities to be heard, and often refrain from asking questions to avoid increasing the burden on their parents. They cannot share their own fears with friends at school or mitigate them by playing with classmates. Largely, they remain unheard, while adults try to cope with multiple difficulties at the same time. Adolescents and young people may feel a sense of pride in their ability to help their families and community to adjust to the online reality they now all live in. Bergamo pediatric psychiatrists observe that for some adolescents, familiarity with the internet appears to be more like an asset that is keeping them connected with friends, social networks and information. For those who do show signs of distress, services providers are creating networks to share resources and knowledge to better target and differentiate their interventions. Within these networks, pediatricians will play a critical role in early warning of signs of distress. Mental health - before, during and afterwardsBergamo mental health specialists highlight the importance of strengthening communication between hospital staff and family. Families are bombarded with life and death situations affecting their loved ones and there is an urgent need for hospital staff trained to inform families of critical situations in the most sensitive manner combined with the offer of psychological support. Often this can be a crucial first step in restoring a sense of community, as well as a means of addressing emotions and concerns for the entire family. Building and strengthening a sense of community is also an important component in overcoming the barrier of stigma associated with revealing one’s weakness or the need for help. This can be a challenging social norm in places like Bergamo, often preventing people from asking for the support they need and worsening household circumstances where vulnerable children live. The Bergamo team proposes that a pool of institutions and representatives serving various sectors of the community develop a "Charter to live with COVID-19" – at both the community and family levels – to engage the whole community, down to the household level, and to promote use of the resources put in place by the various stakeholders, in most cases on the internet. The ‘Community Charter’ would promote solidarity and support to alleviate the burden of a health crisis which has also become a social and economic crisis. It would prioritize and make more accessible concrete services to cope with the emergency, including economic and psycho-social support.A 7 year old boy does homework that his teachers sent to his parents via WhatsApp, Rome , Italy.The ‘Family Charter,’ on the other hand, should locate and identify fragile families and parents, helping them with concrete suggestions on how to support their children, maintain routines, and organize moments of lightness together. It would help parents and caregivers to acquire the necessary skills to recognize signals of distress in children which would require referral. Crucial in this work will be building multiple layers of support for parents who have been serving as nurturers, caregivers, teachers, counselors and supporters of children and young people. Schools intersect all children's livesLastly, school is the one agency that intersects the lives of almost all children. Health professionals say they have not observed significant disparities in learning during the period of school closure, due, in their view, to Bergamo’s very high standard of living. But the true picture of educational disparity could be unclear, with all attention still on saving human lives. However, educational authorities need to start thinking about how to support children when they come back to class. And teachers will need enormous support as they come in contact with the social and emotional trauma on children who have spent months in quarantine as family and friends succumbed around them. For many children, especially for the most vulnerable and fragile, schools represent the only familiar and constant space for social and emotional support. Planning a shared community moment at the beginning of the next school year can provide an opportunity to talk about what occurred and to empathetically listen to everyone's stories. The lead author of the paper referenced in the beginning of this narrative emphasizes that concerted international humanitarian response is needed in places like Bergamo. He also warns that the coronavirus outbreak should not be confused with an earthquake. The symptom profile and population dynamics of the contagion requires a prolonged multi-sectoral, multi-phase response that could take quite different forms along the way.A home visit physician visiting a COVID-19 patient with mild symptoms at his home in Lombardy.Summary of lessons on caring for children and families – Outlined by Bergamo health workersThe symptom profile and trajectory of COVID-19 makes it almost impossible for existing data systems to explain the true scope of the problem;The virus cannot be fought with a patient focused approach to care; it can only be attacked effectively with a community care approach;Children and families are not the most vulnerable to COVID-19 contagion, but they are vulnerable to being hidden or sidelined in the worst hit communities;It is essential to reverse the ingrained response that the hospital is where people should rush for urgent care as they become the most dangerous hotbeds of infection, and where children can easily become asymptomatic cases;Children (and adults) who are sick with anything other than COVID-19 will almost certainly be neglected; perhaps the most compelling reason to remain at home and minimize the chance of an accident or injury that would ordinarily lead to a hospital visit;Focus on stressors affecting parents, caregivers, teachers and child social service providers and strengthen networks that support them across families, local institutions (municipalities), schools, social workers and physicians;Keep children’s emotional needs uppermost and ensure they have space to express their opinions and that they are encouraged to do so. High standards of living and low inequality are no assurance that educational equity is being maintained during school closure;Adolescents may feel a sense of pride in their ability to help family members adjust to the new reality of a fully online community; often their deep experience with online interaction can be a powerful source for connection, social networks and vital information for themselves and their families;Prioritize training of hospital staff in sensitive communication with loved ones following the death of a relative as this has been observed to mitigate the impact of intense grief on children and families;Even in such a devastating period social stigma against expressing weakness or asking for assistance can be a severe obstacle to working through households to address the needs of children;Establishing a ‘Charter to Live with COVID-19’ can be a powerful tool for communities and families to assert their determination to survive and focus on the needs of the most vulnerable members of their homes and neighborhoods;Provide support to adults who will be called on to shoulder far more that their usual responsibilities as they must be the hands that health, social work, education and protection services for children are delivered during quarantine;Teachers and schools provide a crucial continuum of support that often goes far beyond learning both during quarantine and in the very sensitive period immediately afterwards. They need more support that is commonly considered at this stage.Patrizia Faustini is Sr Communication Associate and Dale Rutstein is Chief of Communication at the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti. The writers would like to acknowledge the following physical and mental health professionals of Bergamo who generously contributed their insights and their precious time during the worst health crisis to hit their community in centuries. Susanna Ambrosino, Psychologist; Lorella Giuliana Caffi, Child Neuropsychiatrist; Andrea Ciocca, Project Coordinator; Sara Forlani, Child Neuropsychiatrist; Donatella Fusari, Physiotherapist; Ludovica Ghilardi, Research Fellow, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Claudia Guuva, Child Neuropsychiatrist; Francesca Lesmo, Psychologist; Michela Marzaroli, Child Neuropsychiatrist; Mirco Nacoti, MD, Anesthesia and Intensive Care; Anna Polo Resmi, Child Neuropsychiatrist; Anna Maria Scioti, Psychologist; Patrizia Maria Carla Stoppa, Child Neuropsychiatrist.
Pinocchio on trial: Who is guilty?
Pinocchio is sitting at the defendant’s seat with his lawyer, when the judges enter the hall. On one side the prosecutor looks at him grimly, with the Cat and the Fox, Mangiafuoco, the puppet master, and the teacher next to him. On the other side, the father Geppetto, a poor woodcarver, and the Fairy with the Turquoise Hair, the fictitious mother who Pinocchio never had, wait for their turn in silence. All of them will tell about Pinocchio’s behavior - the good and the bad. Around the courtroom, the mood was grim as a trial was about to begin. The accusations against Pinocchio were serious: playing truant from school; lying; betraying the trust of those who loved him, being a slacker. At the prosecutor’s request the witnesses repeat, one by one, the same story: Pinocchio is an unruly, ungrateful and listless child, fully aware of his misdeeds, therefore he is guilty and punishable. Only his lawyer, with the Turquoise Fairy and Geppetto, defends Pinocchio, speaking loudly the language of love and care: he is just a child whose rights have been violated. And in a few seconds the accusers are turned into accused: "Parents, teachers and governments, as duty bearers, are called to help children and young people to enjoy their rights. But Pinocchio was abandoned by all of them!” the lawyer thunders. At the reading of the sentence, the judge is inflexible, ruling in the language of rights: “A child is always a child. Parents and every institution have the responsibility to ensure, within the limits of their possibilities and their financial means, all conditions necessary for the full development of a child, in the best interests of the child.” Pinocchio is not guilty! Nobody could have imagined - 30 years ago - to apply the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to one of the most well-known children’s stories in the world: “The Adventures of Pinocchio", about the famous animated puppet who, after going through a series of troubles, finally becomes a child. Children participate in "Pinocchio on "Trial" in the hall of the Italian Parliament on May 20, 2019.“Pinocchio on Trial” occurred in the hall of the Italian Parliament on May 20, 2109, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the CRC, organized by the Italian Committee of UNICEF and the Chamber of Deputies Presidency. Students of a second-grade school and their teachers presented an exciting theater piece, sending a clear and strong message to the hall, full of authorities, children, and parents for the occasion: Pinocchio can only become a real child through the help of the adults who have the duty of protecting and caring for him. “Pinocchio on Trial" was the brainchild of Emilia Narciso, a member of the Italian UNICEF National Committee. In her story, Pinocchio becomes an allegory of the journey from childhood to adulthood in modern society, with its contradictions and difficulties in ensuring that every child has the future he/she is entitled to. Leaving the Parliamentary hall, each of us reflected: who is the Cat and the Fox today? Who is Mangiafuoco, or Lucignolo, the bad friend? Who is the Turquoise Fairy, Geppetto or the Talking Cricket? Everyone could relate because, as the Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce said: "Humanity is the wood in which Pinocchio is carved”. Patrizia Faustini is Senior Communication Associate at UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti.
Are children equipped to navigate post-truth societies?
In 2014 the World Economic Forum called the rapid spread of misinformation online one of the ten most critical issues for our societies. A 2016 Stanford study of 7,800 student responses from middle school to college highlighted discomforting results. Researchers found that students had a “dismaying inability” to recognize the difference between: fake and real news, advertising and journalistic writing, neutral and biased sources and fake and real social media accounts. Results of the Stanford survey “shocked” the researchers, they said. According to the Global Digital Report from We Are Social and Hootsuite, in 2018 there were 4 billion people worldwide using the internet, and nearly a quarter of a billion new users had come online for the first time in 2017. The global number of people using social media has grown by 13 percent in the past 12 months, with Central and Southern Asia recording the fastest gains (up 90 percent and 33 percent respectively). Children comprise approximately one in three of all internet users, as explained in the UNICEF Innocenti Discussion Paper One in Three: Internet Governance and Children’s Rights. In more developed countries, children under the age of 18 comprise approximately one-fifth of the population; in less developed countries, however, children constitute a substantially greater percentage of the total population – between one-third and one-half of the population. The complexity of the information environment that news consumers are immersed in today requires new abilities and skills to navigate safely. The rapid spread of ‘fake news’ has amplified the necessity for all internet users to learn how to separate fact from fiction, how to recognize the difference between opinion and facts. As more and more people rely mostly or entirely on internet news sources, it is increasingly difficult for them to maintain the capacity to distinguish between true and false, good and bad, and right or wrong on many practical issues. Children and young people tend to be avid users of social media. As shown in a recent UNICEF Innocenti paper, the impact of digital technology use can have positive impacts on children’s mental well-being. However, relatively little research has been conducted on children’s exposure to false or misleading content and online interactions. An adolescent girl checks her mobile phone on a street in the Southeastern state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. While the overall trend of youth literacy (aged 15-24) is positive, in a society where objective facts are becoming less influential than emotion and belief in shaping public opinion, education systems can miss an historical opportunity to provide children with the skills and tools necessary to critically assess information sources. How can we prepare savvy citizens to quickly separate myth from fact? How can we ensure young people do not lose their connection to the bulk of reliable inherited scientifically verified knowledge? And then how can research matters to reduce inequality and increase educational opportunities if evidence is constantly discredited by counter-narratives propagating appeals to emotions and personal beliefs? Although research and evidence can be bent for special interests, post-truth epistemology cannot simply be reduced to “denying truth and giving all opinions equal weight.” On the contrary, schools and educational curricula can and must play a critical role in equipping children to recognize misinformationAlthough research and evidence can be bent for special interests, post-truth epistemology cannot simply be reduced to “denying truth and giving all opinions equal weight.” On the contrary, schools and educational curricula can and must play a critical role in equipping children to recognize misinformation and to tackle its spread online by cultivating truth-based reality through critical media literacy and historical analyses. Andreas Schleicher, education director of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, is planning to include questions about distinguishing what is true from what is not true in the next round of the influential international PISA tests. According to him, the scope is “to test children about their ability of engaging with diversity, to be open to that, to draw value out of it, and to see diversity not as a problem.” The same aspects are also measured by UNICEF Innocenti’s Global Kids Online survey and will be the focus of an upcoming synthesis report due towards the end of 2019. A recent study shows that the spread of misinformation is driven by several mechanisms that create false beliefs, which once adopted, are rarely corrected. Content-selective exposure is the primary driver of content diffusion, and leads to the generation of homogenous clusters – echo chambers – which have their own cascade dynamics. Selection of information based on harmony with personal beliefs and “vision of the world” create a “comfort zone” where people feel safe. The lack of mediation between the news source and the final user gives rise to increasingly polarized and homogenous communities having similar consumption patterns. Members of these polarized communities then tend to read and discuss only what confirms their original convictions and beliefs. Developing critical thinking skills is one of the main objectives of an educational science of any time and today it remains one of the main antidote to the spread of fake news. How to force students out of their comfort zones and to break those echo chambers is still part of a debate among teachers and educators and maybe there is not one single answer. Interesting perspectives, ideas, strategies can be found on the net that suggest how to develop the ability of students to judge the credibility of information that comes from smartphones, tablets, and computers, but it is still a work in progress. All too often young people are seen as easily manipulated political storm troops where adults “exploit” them. If children and youth were truly treated as rights holders and provided – by educational systems as duty bearers – with the ability and skills to enjoy their “right to information” maybe they would be less vulnerable to these bubbles and echo chambers. The internet stimulated a great acceleration of globalization. And while many communities reaped the reward from increased communication and interaction between diverse cultures and peoples, mono-culture pockets defined and strengthened by post-truth echo-chambers were also propagated. The online debate on immunization, which has recently led WHO to raise the alarm about a dramatic increase in measles infections and outbreaks in Europe, shows how the circulation of fake news can potentially have even life-threatening impacts. How to help children and young people navigate fake news and misinformation online is one of the key questions for education in the years ahead. Patrizia Faustini is a Senior Communication Associate at the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti.
Migration, hate speech and media ethics
Migration is not a crime. It is a practice as old as human civilization and a human right recognized in many international treaties. Since 2013 European media have intensively reported on the daily arrivals on Mediterranean shores, and the tone of much reporting has inflated the idea of migration as an emergency issue and a potential threat to the security of European citizens. Why does this matter? There are two facts that cannot be ignored: migration into developed countries will remain a steady component of societies for many years to come, and media play a critical role in framing public opinion and policy in those societies. Drawing attention to both issues is critical for a sustainable peaceful coexistence in a multicultural environment. According to the United Nations' latest report on world population growth and migration flows, between 2015 and 2050 half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries, mainly in Africa and Asia. In the same time span the top net receivers of international migrants (more than 100,000 annually) are projected to be the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, the Russian Federation and Italy. Net migration gain is projected to account for 82 per cent of population growth in the high-income countries. Media can play a critical role in influencing public perception of migrants and/or in facilitating their integration. They can be a firewall against racism and xenophobia, or a catalyser of instinctive and emotional hostile reactions towards migrant people. In Europe this has become particularly evident. As noted a report from by the EU project Bricks against Hate Speech, a significant increase of the use of hate speech, often blaming immigrants and minorities for the difficulties of their own countries, has spread in most countries. The report highlights that even harmless editorial opinions – if read one by one – can fuel a continuous flow of hate speech that does not stop. Small news, stories, reportage, or even single words can damage the image of migrants and create barriers towards understanding the entire phenomenon. And we are only just beginning to understand how massive social media platforms can dramatically accelerate such speech in Europe and North America. According to a recent Italian report the three main migration issues filling the headlines of the principal newspapers in 2016 include: the impact on European countries receiving large numbers of migrants; narration of the sea passage; and socio-cultural issues such as race and manifestations of xenophobia – a topic which increased three fold in comparison to 2015 data from the same report. In May 2016 the Italian Parliament set up the Jo Cox Commission on Intolerance, Xenophobia, Racism and Hate with the intent of exploring the phenomenon of hate speech in Italy. The final report shows the existence of a pyramid of hate (see below) which goes from apparently ‘non-harmful’ attitudes like stereotypes, false or misleading representations, insults, normal and banal hostile language to discrimination, hate language and hate crimes. The pyramid of hate revealed in the final report prepared by the Committee on hate, intolerance, xenophobia and racism set up by the Italian Chamber of Deputies, after 14 months of work, 31 people hearings and collation of 187 documents (studies, research papers, monographs, data records, position papers).Depicting migrants as a mass of people fleeing their countries – with no distinction between refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants or those simply fleeing harsh conditions – will only drive collective imagination progressively towards dehumanising them. Migrant people are transformed into hordes of terrorists, criminals and victims, ready to threaten European security. As a result, even the most extreme act against them might ultimately be tolerated as “legitimate defence”, and any discrimination accepted, if not justified. Peace Journalism is when editors and reporters are aware of their contribution to the construction of reality and of their responsibility to give peace a chance. - Wilhelm Kempf 2012Combating hatred, intolerance and xenophobia; being sensitive to the language used in the narrative; and challenging the notion of permanent emergency by humanizing the stories behind each migrant, especially children, is an objective that the UNICEF Innocenti study Forced Displacement and Child Responsive Communication aims to pursue. The study will look at how the media has influenced Italian public opinion and policy towards thousands of migrant children who have arrived in Italy over the last two years. The research asks why media’s current role in Italy is almost completely unaware of child rights sensitive reporting. How can journalism more quickly overcome a seemingly unmindful descent into jingoism with regard to the flow of the “wretched other” arriving on foreign shores? How can international norms and ethical standards, especially in relation to child rights, be factored into one of the most important news stories of our time? Movement toward an ethic of responsibility in media could be a good way to start. Patrizia Faustini is Senior Communication Assistant with UNICEF Innocenti. Explore the UNICEF Innocenti research catalogue for new publications. Follow UNICEF Innocenti on Twitter and sign up for e-newsletters on any page of the UNICEF Innocenti website.
Climate change – why a children’s rights perspective matters
Climate change is not only about weather. Climate change is about people, their rights and future. A truly global challenge of our time. The world is struggling with huge problems like poverty eradication, conflict and discrimination. The majority of people living on Earth still lack decent conditions of life and protection of their fundamental rights. How can climate change matter? How can the rights of future generations become a priority? Perhaps there will always be challenges considered more immediate. But what if we start interpreting climate change as a global phenomenon of inter-generational justice? Action, or better, inaction, becomes a form of injustice which feeds on and perpetuates inequality, and forces those who are least responsible to pay the highest price: in decades to come. Future generations will have no choice but to swallow whole the injustices of current generations towards them. Climate change should be forcing us to balance the rights and claims of persons living today against those of persons in the future. The ethical construct of inter-generational justice could help us find answers for some of the most pressing questions about governance of resources, the rights of children and environmental sustainability. The new report The Challenges of Climate Change: Children on the Front Line published by the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, contains an illuminating discussion which could help us approach the defining issue of our times. Climate change challenges children’s rights by threatening their fundamental condition: our planet. Human action is putting a strain on planetary boundaries, without being able to predict with certainty the final consequences for the generations yet unborn. In a world where the world itself is at risk, perhaps inter-generational justice is an idea whose time has come. Forecasts do not allow any reasonable prediction beyond 2100. Sceptics may say that it is too far in the future for concern today. From a children’s rights perspective; however, minimizing that degree of uncertainty is the ultimate reason for struggling every day for their full recognition and realization. Children are the largest and most vulnerable group to the effects of climate change. Join in the conversation on climate change and its impact children, on social media with #right2Bcool. Experts say that more than 80 percent of climate-related deaths in developing countries are among children. Most of their rights are threatened every time a new disaster occurs. Putting in place child-centred mitigation and adaptation measures is certainly a good way of responding, but taking a child rights point of view also implies broadening the perspective from the immediate present to the distant future. There is also another good reason to frame climate change as a child rights issue. If we accept the Convention on the Rights of the Child’s assertion that children are holders of rights, we must accept that children become partners of critical importance in understanding and acting on climate change issues in their communities and in coping with its challenges. They can be actors for global change in the way we treat our environment, manage resources and set the foundations for future human society. Children and young people today constitute the generation that will be required to deliver the very deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that will be essential in the coming decades. Yet they are a constituency that has been effectively ignored when it comes to high-level climate discussions. Patrizia Faustini is a Senior Communication Assistant, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti
World Children’s Day 2019
The City of Florence joined UNICEF Innocenti and the Istituto degli Innocenti to '#GoBlue,' an initiative launched by UNICEF around the world to celebrate World Children’s Day, 20 November 2019.
Inaugural UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival
Thirty two films from 28 countries were screened over three days, receiving enthusiastic reception from audiences. Apart from the diversity and quality of the film programme, a highlight of the festival was the panel discussions which featured dialogue between film directors and UNICEF child rights research experts.