Children's environmental health

Children's Environmental Health Indicators (CEHI) International workshop

Children's Environmental Health Indicators: Five Years After the Global Commitment at the World Summit on Sustainable Development

Location: Hammamet, Tunisia

Dates: 10 & 11 April 2008

Aims

The workshop assessed progress made to date on developing children’s environmental health indicators and discussed directions for future work.

Specific workshop objectives

    • To review of efforts to date on developing and reporting children's environmental health indicators around the world;
    • To review the initial findings from the evaluation of CEHI development and implementation mechanisms;
    • To identify lessons learned and best practices;
    • To plan for continued improvement in children environmental health indicator development and reporting in view of integrating activities into national systems.

Background

The Global Initiative on Children's Environmental Health Indicators (CEHI) was launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 with partners from governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and international organizations. WHO has been coordinating the development and implementation of this initiative with funding support from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), enabling the creation of several pilot indicator projects around the world. Other notable children’s environmental health indicators efforts were also in progress or started over the last five years, notably in Europe, North America, South America, and the United States. An assessment of all these efforts will provide important information and lessons on developing and implementing children’s environmental health indicators and will help guide future efforts.

Children's environmental health indicators

Environmental factors have been identified as a critical influence on children’s health. Developing children’s environmental health indicators, which provide quantitative information on trends in important environmental health factors, is crucial for implementing successful interventions and identifying future policy needs to improve children's health at the national and global level. Implementing children's environmental health indicators contributes towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations (notably Goal 4, to improve child health and Goal 7, to ensure environmental sustainability).

Regional and country efforts for workshop review

Children’s environmental health indicator pilot projects in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, Europe and North America are available for review. Various methodological approaches were used by different pilot projects to collect and report on children’s environmental health indicators. In some cases, data from existing international databases were compiled (e.g. Europe, North America), while in others, household surveys were undertaken to collect primary data (e.g. Eastern Mediterranean Region). An assessment and evaluation of these different mechanisms, listing the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches, utility for monitoring relevant factors for children’s environmental health and contribution to appropriate targeting of interventions, is essential. To respond to this need, a background document will be prepared by students participating in the International Environmental Policy Practicum at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a division of The Johns Hopkins University. This background document will present an initial evaluation of the country efforts to date and will be available for review prior to the workshop This work is expected to provide an overall assessment of the methodology for indicator selection and monitoring, and can be used to guide future efforts in this area.
Because different regions and countries have diverse sets of children’s environmental health problems due to, for example, climate, geology, level of industrialization, degree of urbanization, and socio-demographic characteristics, each of these efforts contribute in unique ways to global children’s environmental health reporting under a common framework. The indicators made available through these efforts will form the basis for a global clearing house on children’s environmental health indicators. WHO has offered to host this clearinghouse. In addition to providing a first glimpse of the state of children’s environmental health in different regions of the world, these efforts play an essential role in testing and evaluating different options for information and data collection.

Workshop prospectus

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