Early Childhood Matters 2021 highlights the intersection of climate change and early childhood

Published February 21, 2022

Available now in both English and Spanish, the 2021 edition of the Foundation’s annual journal Early Childhood Matters (Espacio para la Infancia) – The Climate Issue: Caring for children and the planet – is a deep-dive into the intersection of the climate crisis and the early years.

The English edition was formally launched on 2 December 2021 at a virtual event featuring guest editor Pamela Druckerman and several authors of articles in the edition. The event drew over 250 participants, with translation into Spanish and Portuguese. The recording of the event can be (re)watched here. We are now working with early childhood networks ISSA and ARNEC to disseminate the journal in varied geographies.

The Climate Issue includes 35 articles, collected under three headings – evidence, new approaches, and education and activism – which explore a range of perspectives on how climate change and the early years affect each other. Notably, many activities that cause greenhouse gas emissions also cause air pollution, to which the youngest children are especially vulnerable.

There is also much common ground in solutions, especially for cities: approaches such as planting more trees and greenery, and encouraging walking and cycling rather than car use, simultaneously make cities more climate-friendly and resilient, and more family-friendly.

Authors of articles in this edition include researchers, practitioners, activists and leaders from local to international level, such as Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Jorge Muñoz, Mayor of Lima. The articles explore topics as varied as the effect of extreme heat on pregnant women and infants, why children benefit from playing in nature, and how to inspire children and parents to become climate activists.

At the Bernard van Leer Foundation, we see a lot of potential for synergy in combining the passionate activism that exists for climate action and the early years. We are committed to increasing our work to bring together all stakeholders to explore more imaginative inter-sectoral thinking.