Thank you for joining Equity for Children in observance of the International Day of Families.
Following a 1993 UN General Assembly resolution, May 15th has served annually as a day to raise public awareness of the social, economic, and cultural challenges that families confront, particularly in contexts of deprivation. Research, advocacy efforts, and policymaking must focus wherever possible on improving the well-being of the entire family unit rather than only focusing on individuals in isolation.
People cannot be removed from the context of the people whose presence, ideas, and decisions influenced their upbringing as children. Nor can people’s individual fortunes be disentangled from the fortunes of the family they choose to build as adults. Families often experience prosperity or hardship together. Individuals learn, adapt, and grow with those around them in a personal evolution that is most consistently and meaningfully shared with family because of physical proximity and emotional bonds. As a human race, we must learn about the pressing social and environmental issues we need to address. We will adjust and adapt to the changing needs of our world alongside those close to us, as we have with everything in life. This is why developing resilient families, the most sturdy and essential building blocks of communities, is critical to ending the cross-generational passage of poverty and to succeeding in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN’s 193 member states in 2015.
This year’s observance day would like to highlight the family in relation to Sustainable Development Goal 13 towards combating climate change and its impacts. Families play an important role in our future response to environmental challenges. Target 13.3 calls for the improvement of “education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change, mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning”. Meaningful shifts in habit often occur through positive mutual reinforcement amongst members of a family unit, and thus families must take central focus in measures aimed at fulfilling this target.
There is a challenge and opportunity for families to engage in an inter-generational participatory approach to undertaking sustainable practices, as well as to the spread of sustainable development education and good practices. We must therefore work as practitioners to share best practices when addressing complex family challenges and attempting to influence policy that will affect family members in relation to each other as individuals and in relation to the world around them. Protecting families increases the security of the environment and future prospects we provide for our children. Therefore, protecting the welfare of our children and the guardians who raise and protect them must be central to progress towards creating a better world.