It’s been an inspiring few weeks. HHI just returned from Clinton Global Initiative’s 2013 Annual Meeting, which convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. And, just ahead of that was the launch of the Early Childhood Peace Consortium, hosted by UNICEF, Yale University and the Fetzer Institute.
At the Early Childhood Peace Consortium, a dedicated group of professionals from academia, UN agencies, foundations and NGOs gathered to connect the dots between research findings on the neurobiology of the developing brain and its impact on conflict and violence. It was a fascinating and educational day. Brain science has made leaps and bounds in the last decade and now it can be shown that both the environment and the caregiving relationship between child and parent in the earliest years actually alters the infant’s neurobiology – brain development – and that this lasts a lifetime, impacting all domains of development, and with particular and predictable behavioral and health outcomes. These include tendencies towards addiction, depression, violence, school failure; as well as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. This all means that the implications of a child’s earliest years are more critical than ever imagined and that the number one thing that can be influenced for the better, is the relationship an infant has with their parent/caregiver – the best protective factor against the hardships of poverty, violence, family disease or trauma and an entire host of challenges that can be significantly buffered all by the love and consistent nurturing of a parent (or auntie, or grandpa, someone loving and caring for that baby!).
As you would suspect, this was all completely validating of HHI’s work and left me exhilarated and ready to share it with the world the following week at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).
The week at CGI was an ocean of individuals, ideas, compassion and energy, all out to create solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Speakers included political elites like Presidents Clinton and Obama, celebrities such as Bono, Kate Hudson and Ben Affleck, and global leaders like Bill Gates and Malala, the young Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban who is now an international voice for girls’ education.
This year CGI’s focus was “Mobilizing Impact” and every participant there was required to make a Commitment to Action. Every Commitment brings together the key people, organizations and resources to create bold new ways to address global challenges. HHI met some incredible new people and organizations and together we are crafting our Commitment to Action, stay tuned for the announcement of this.
What HHI contributed to the CGI Annual Meeting was knowledge, experience and advocacy for early childhood development. Coming off the heels of the UNICEF meeting, was perfect timing to offer the latest research and most compelling case for investments in programming and resources for early childhood, as well as our own simple model of how ECD can be integrated into existing models for health, education, women’s empowerment, etc… New systems do not need to be created from scratch, the investments are minimal, while the outcomes last a lifetime and global economists rate the returns on ECD programs from $4 – $17 for every $1 invested! This represents the highest rate of return on any project a government could possibly make.
Stay tuned for HHI’s CGI Commitment to Action and our new partnerships.
See more of HHI’s photos from CGI.
See CGI’s official pics from the Annual Meeting.