Home > Americas, Canada, Economics, Latin America, Politics, USA > Harper, Bush and Calderon Shortsighted to Ignore 120 Million Kids

Harper, Bush and Calderon Shortsighted to Ignore 120 Million Kids

The Canadian Council on Social Development writes:

When the three North American leaders and planeloads of their officials arrive in Montebello, Quebec, for the annual meeting of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), they’ll have lots to talk about.

There is, however, a glaring omission in the SPP’s jam-packed agenda – one which compromises the future security and prosperity of the continent.

Children under the age of 18 make up one-quarter of the 426 million people in North America. How they grow up is important not only to their parents, it is also of vital concern for the continuing strength of the three countries. If our leaders are to promote the “full potential” of our people – as they committed to do when the SPP was launched in 2005 – how can they do so while ignoring issues relevant to more than 120 million citizens?

More than 300 goals have been articulated since the SPP project began. Of course, co-operation on handling flu pandemics or the smuggling of nuclear materials will be of benefit to all North American citizens. But Prime Minister Harper, President Bush and President Calderon can’t seriously expect to talk about long-term security and prosperity if they ignore the well-being of children and youth or consider the issue incidental to their discussions.

And indeed, an examination of projects sponsored under the SPP reveals that children are incidental to this work.

That oversight is of particular concern to my organization, the Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD). Over the past three years, we have been working with organizations in the United States and Mexico to develop tools and resources to assess how children in North American are doing in this increasingly interdependent and interconnected world. What we have found so far is that there are many commonalities – rising rates of obesity and respiratory problems, for example. There are also many emerging trends where a little knowledge-sharing could go a long way.

Sadly, we’ve also discovered that comparable data on children’s welfare is sorely lacking in too many areas. And some promising initiatives have been shut down, including groundbreaking work on children’s health and the environment done by the NAFTA-created Commission on Environmental Co-Operation.

There’s a term for talking strategy without data – it’s called guesswork.

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