Read the open letter to the G20 Member States, signed by 32 youth-led organisations around the world.
Dear G20 Representatives
We, as representatives of youth-led organisations and marginalised young people all over the world, call upon the members of the G20 to act urgently to deliver a fair share of resources and support for the children and young people suffering the worst injustices as a result of the lack of international support received by lower-income countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We represent the 382.7 million children living in extreme poverty, watching our futures disappear.
We represent the 128 million young people still forced out of education by lockdowns, and the 258 million children who have never been to school at all.
We represent the 160 million children forced into child labour, and the 46 million children at risk of child labour, we who no longer have a childhood.
We represent the 34.6 million children on the move, who continue to live without full access to our basic rights to education, nutrition, health, or status.
In 2020, we predicted that the world would witness unacceptable increases in child labour, child poverty, and child hunger if governments did not provide a fair share of COVID-19 financial relief to the most marginalised children and their families. We called on you as the Heads of Governments of the world’s wealthiest countries, urging you to provide increased international aid for health interventions, social protection, water and sanitation, and education, as well as substantial debt relief. We welcomed the Debt Servicing Suspension Initiative and increased bilateral aid from several G20 members, yet all of this has ultimately proved insufficient: 150 million more of us entered multidimensional poverty in 2020, 46 million of us could become child labourers between 2020 and the end of 2022, and the 34.6 million of us who have been displaced have been put at greater risk of child labour and trafficking, child marriage, and violence.
These unprecedented increases in the worst injustices against children are happening when global wealth has reached an all-time high: between 2015 and 2019, the world became $12 trillion richer - the equivalent of $1,600 per person. This should have been good news, particularly, for the children living in the poorest countries in Africa where GNI per person averages only $680. However, Africa continues to be denied its fair share.
In 2020 alone, $12 trillion was spent by G7 countries in COVID relief. But just $10 billion - a fraction of a percent of the G7 relief - was spent on humanitarian COVID relief for lower-income countries. The average rich country is now 67 times wealthier than the average low-income country in Africa, an obscene and growing difference. This shameful abandonment of the families in most need has resulted in the extreme suffering of millions more of us.
During the forthcoming G20 Summit you have an opportunity to reverse this tide of injustice, and we urge you now to prioritise us - the children and young people you have so far left behind.
We are calling for universal social protection for children:
Investment in social protection for children is critical to ending poverty and child labour, and increasing enrolment and retention in school. As G20 member states you know this to be true: you used social protection in your own successful fights to end the scourge of injustice, even if - for most of you - it was over a century ago. Today, you can decide to help universal social protection systems to flourish in the countries in most need: just $53 billion a year would provide universal child and maternity benefits in every low-income country. We believe G20 countries can help deliver this, but we also call on governments in low-income countries to provide their fair share of the budget too. While $53 billion may appear to be an ambitious demand, this represents less than two days of the $12 trillion COVID-19 support in G7 countries.
We are calling for debt cancellation and increased aid for lower-income countries:
We call on the G20 to collectively cancel debt - and at the very least extend and expand the DSSI - to enable more countries to find fiscal space for public services including education and social protection for children. We further call on donor countries both within and external to the G20 to increase bilateral, grant-based aid to low-income countries, specifically for social protection and education. Both of these demands are in line with the UN Secretary-General’s recent call to action on jobs and social protection, and we urge every government to heed this call to prevent further damage to our generation and to the generations to come.
We are calling for increased financial and political support for forcibly displaced children and their families:
Forcibly displaced children have suffered disproportionately as a result of the pandemic through reduced income support, reduced food security, reduced access to basic services including education, and significantly increased risks of violence, child trafficking and labour, and child marriage. We call on the G20 to increase humanitarian financing for forcibly displaced children, particularly for emergency access to food and education, and to increase support for resettlement programmes to allow every displaced child to live in safety and with dignity.
Members of the G20: so far you have given us far too little, but it is not too late. We call on you now to give us our fair share of our world’s resources - you cannot afford to lose another generation of us.
Advocates for Sustainable Health and Wealth in Africa, Uganda
African Children and Youth Network for Human Rights / Réseau des Enfants et Jeunes Africains pour les Droits Humains (REJADH) Burundi
African Youth Organization for Development and Emergence, Mali
All-Africa Students’ Union
Association des Jeunes pour le Développement Communautaire (AJDC), DRC
Association Football Helps, Burundi
Burundi National Students’ Union, Burundi
Commonwealth Children and Youth Disability Network
Commonwealth Students' Association
Dreams Alive Africa, Kenya
freier zusammenschluss von student*innenschaften (fzs) e.V., Germany
Future Resilience and Development Foundation, Nigeria
Global Student Forum
Hope For Nigeria Education Fund
I CAN South Sudan, South Sudan/Uganda
Infinite Hope for Vulnerable Africa, Uganda
Jeunesse au Service d'un Burundi Meilleur, Burundi
Learn to Lead, Gambia
Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU)
Raees Child Education Initiative, Nigeria
Raising Teenagers Uganda
Smart Aid Initiative, Nigeria
Tabitha Community in Action, Burundi
Teach for Somalia
The Empowered African Child Initiative, Nigeria
The Youth Coalition for the Consolidation of Democracy, Malawi
Youngsmart Development Initiative, Nigeria
Youth and Women for Opportunities Uganda (YWOU)
Youth Institution for Education, Cote d’Ivoire