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Global Compact for Early Childhood Development

Global Compact for Early Childhood Development First meeting of Early Adopter Cities


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.