Over 100 organisations rally to drive early childhood change
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > 100+ early childhood organisations urge G20 to address Early Years crisis

100+ early childhood organisations urge G20 to address Early Years crisis

by Freya Lucas

November 29, 2023

Prominent voices including the Lego Foundation, UNICEF and the International Rescue Committee have urged G20 to boost investment for children under five years of age, noting that currently half of pre-primary children globally are not enrolled in any form of early education. 


Investing strongly in the early years, the cohort of more than 100 organisations note in an open letter, “is both a moral must and a strategic win for the G20”. 


The call comes as  Brazil’s President Lula da Silva is poised to take over the G20 presidency on 1 December, and urges world leaders to take urgent action to address the severe lack of funding in early childhood care and education.  


Organisations including the Roger Federer Foundation, Sesame Workshop and many organisations in Brazil including Fundação Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal believe that world leaders are ignoring the overwhelming evidence of the benefits of investing in the early years, putting children’s futures unnecessarily at risk. 


More than half of the world’s children – 350 million – do not have access to the childcare they need and about half of pre-primary aged children are not enrolled in any form of early education.    


“Despite the overwhelming evidence of the high returns of investing in early years programs, there is a woeful lack of public funding for the under-five age group and we are facing a global early years crisis where more than half of the world’s young children are missing out on the early years childcare and preschool they urgently need,” notes the letter, which has been coordinated by the Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN) and Theirworld. 


“This lack of investment has a devastating impact on a child’s future as they start school already behind their peers, deepening inequality and impacting their future chances in life and ability to cope with future crises, not of their making.”


Pervasive gender norms also mean that the brunt of the global childcare crisis falls on women, with high childcare costs or lack of availability the main reason why women cannot enter or must leave the workforce.


The signatories are calling on the G20 to revive a pledge they made in 2018 to invest in the early years, which has been blown off course by the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic downturn. 


President Lula da Silva has announced the G20’s theme will be “building a fair world and a sustainable planet”.  


But experts argue that ambition can only be met by increasing investment in the early years.   


“Investing in the early years is both a moral must and a strategic win for the G20,” said Justin van Fleet, President of Theirworld.  


“Brazil has set a vision of building ‘a fair world and a sustainable planet’. Early years care is vital in that mission – it’s when the building blocks for a prosperous and equitable future for everyone are laid. The undeniable reality is that without early years support children are at risk of going through life with poorer physical and mental health. They face a struggle to learn and, later, to earn a living.“ 


The letter is part of the growing global Act For Early Years campaign, which is supported by hundreds of children’s organisations, businesses, celebrities and youth activists.


The campaign is calling for a transformation in the provision of early years care and support. It is backed by an extensive and hard-hitting report, which lays bare the scale of the early years crisis. 


Learn more about the Act For Early Years campaign here

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