Prospects for children in 2022: a global perspective – World

As we enter a third year of the pandemic, what can be done to improve the lot of children?

Strong points

2022 sees us entering a third year of the pandemic, and the harm done to children is increasingly evident: a record rise in child poverty. Setbacks in progress on routine vaccinations. Disruption of education for an entire generation. This harm has emerged as an unintended side effect of global efforts to manage the crisis.

COVID has been a particularly unbalancing crisis. Aside from unequal access to vaccines, learning losses have been greatest among the poorest children, and job losses have been borne disproportionately by women and youth.

What future for the children of the world in the coming year? As in the past two years, the outlook for children will continue to depend primarily on the pandemic and how it is handled.

Our analysis focuses on the next 12 months, taking an in-depth look at key trends impacting children – and helping us all to help children survive and thrive, better understand where we stand, where we are going and what we need to do.

Key findings include:

  • In 2022, the global community must recast its COVID strategy: focus not only on mitigating the virus, but also on mitigating its effects on society – especially children.

  • The consequences of school closures will be increasingly reckoned: learning losses are worse than expected and negative coping strategies – including child labor and marriage – are on the rise.

  • A lack of global cooperation jeopardizes the G20’s goal of vaccinating at least 70% of the population in every country by the middle of the year. This increases the chances of new variants escaping, delaying eventual containment of the virus and allowing costs for children to continue to pile up.

  • Inequalities will take new forms: access to COVID mRNA doses and boosters will remain restricted, and access to life-saving treatments will be even more exclusive.

  • Record humanitarian needs are projected in 2022. As the impact of climate change intensifies, it will trigger new disasters, drive instability and exacerbate existing vulnerabilities.

  • But children and young people are expressing greater optimism for the future, and 2022 will provide opportunities to prove them right. For example, the technology and infrastructure developed for the pandemic may drive the next revolution in child survival.

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