The first 1,000 days of life form the pivotal foundation of every human being's emotional, mental and physical well-being. An extensive and growing body of research has demonstrated conclusively that poverty, poor nutrition, lack of stimulation, stress and other factors disrupt normal early childhood development (ECD) — putting children at a lifelong disadvantage.
By 2050, 70 percent of the world's population will be living in cities. In this increasingly urbanized world, cities play a major role in helping all children achieve their full potential. Some cities are now working to strengthen their maternal health, nutrition and parenting programs, to create family centers, and to increase the child-friendliness of their social services, justice systems and public spaces.
The New York Academy of Sciences has created the Global Compact for Early Childhood Development as a platform to support civic leaders in this effort. This initiative is unique in its international scope and focus on improving the lives of urban children from gestation up to three years of age ("under-3 ECD"). Details can be found here.
Our goal is to build a global collaborative network of cities that are committed to developing innovative, evidence-based, effective, and scalable programs for young children. We are guided by the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, as they relate to children, and by the 2016 Lancet series on ECD.
By convening civic leaders, policymakers, practitioners and researchers, the Academy hopes to foster an exchange of ideas and information among cities and across disciplines. This growing network is designed to help cities compare best practices and learn from one another. Participation in this effort will help Mayors and other civic leaders around the world improve "under-3 ECD" in their own unique contexts.
First Meeting of Early Adopter Cities
On November 30 and December 1, 2016, 41 civic officials from 13 cities, and more than 25 internationally recognized ECD experts, convened at the New York Academy of Sciences, to share experiences in the development of urban ECD programs. The cities included four from the US, four from the UK, and one-each from Brazil, Colombia, Philippines, Lithuania and Slovenia.
This was an intentionally diverse group of "early adopter cities" at different stages in the development of their ECD programs. The mayors of each city have confirmed their commitment to such programs, and their desire to learn "what works" from other cities and from ECD experts. The Academy's intention is to expand this network to include many more cities over time.
While the Global Compact for Early Childhood Development is a new endeavor, the Academy's experience, expertise, and leadership in the areas of nutrition — conducted through The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science — and neuroscience, two central components of ECD research and programming, are well established. Some of the Academy's recent publications and programming related to ECD are listed below.
Beyond the IQ Test (August 2016)
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Special Issue covering a range of topics including the U-STARS~PLUS approach to recognizing high potential in young children; and the contribution of psychosocial factors to academic performance.
Every Child's Potential: A Call to Action and Policy Brief (2015)
This Policy Brief translates the evidence from the Annals volume above into five actions for policy makers and program implementers to deliver better interventions in the first 1,000 days and beyond.
Shaping the Developing Brain: Prenatal through Early Childhood (November 2014)
Academy conference bringing together scientists and researchers to examine cognitive and neural development with the educators and other specialists who are directly involved in the day-to-day learning of infants and young children.
Every Child's Potential: Integrating Nutrition and Early Childhood Development Interventions (January 2014)
Report in Annals of The New York Academy of Sciences examining promising efforts to address the scientific and practical challenges of developing early child development interventions integrating health, cognitive and nutritional components.
Play, Attention, and Learning: How Does Play and Timing Shape the Development of Attention and Facilitate Classroom Learning? (July 2013)
Report in Annals of The New York Academy of Sciences describing an Academy led convening of neuroscientists, developmental psychologists, and funders on how early childhood play influences the development of attention and other cognitive abilities.
Third Annual Aspen Brain Forum: Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning — Implications for Education (September 2011)
Seminal conference on cutting-edge developments in cognitive neuroscience leading to improvements in teaching methods in the classroom as well as related emotional, sociological, and environmental factors.
Gilles Bergeron, PhD
Senior Vice President
The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science
Charles Gardner, PhD
Global Compact for Early Childhood Development
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