Global Summit on Childhood

2016: Creating a Better World for Children and Youth Through Sustainability, Social Innovation, and Synergy

Intercontinental Hotel in San José, Costa Rica
31 March - 3 April 2016

Childhood is being shaped during an era that is both transforming and transformative, yet the vision for a future in which all children may thrive remains unchanged and universal. This year, the United Nations has launched a dynamic set of Sustainable Development Goals to guide the world as it embarks on a path towards inclusive and shared prosperity in a peaceful and resilient world. Since children and youth will be the torchbearers of this new world vision, we must embrace a shared vision of a better world for our children.

The 2016 Global Summit on Childhood brought together individuals from around the world and across disciplines to explore the role of childhood in ensuring a positive human future during a time of rapid change. Beyond developing a shared vision of a better world for children, the Summit was an opportunity for collective action to celebrate innovative research, policies, and practices that support a positive childhood.

Sustainability • believe in a vision of sustainable futures for children

Sustainability is the capacity to survive and to thrive. While sustainability is often associated with environmental concerns, creating sustainable human futures goes beyond environmental sustainability. Sustainable living promotes resilience, equity, peace, security, and stability and supports lifelong learning, participation, and livelihoods that create a positive future for all, including children and youth.

Social Innovation • reimagine and design innovative partnerships, collaborations, and practices that promote child well-being

Social innovations are new strategies, concepts, and ideas that meet human development needs through collaborative approaches. Social innovations cut across organizational or disciplinary boundaries to create compelling new relationships that focus on unique forms of cooperation and practice and can foster greater societal involvement in the provision of education and social services for children and youth.

Synergy • collaborate to create an inspiring vision for childhood

Synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, a collective action that builds energy and momentum in order to achieve a goal. Achieving synergy between individuals or organizations requires open dialogue and respect for one another. With synergy, understanding and mutual trust allow for engaged collective action for social good to address the needs of children and youth.

+ The Goals of the Global Summit

  • Reflect upon the current state of childhood and how it may positively or negatively impact the trajectory of the human future from international, cross-cultural, and cross-disciplinary perspectives.
  • Provide an interdisciplinary platform among the global community to explore the role of the childhood experience in achieving a sustainable human future.
  • Highlight innovative approaches, collaborative efforts, and practices that address human development needs, beginning at childhood.
  • Examine the systems and processes that open pathways for collective participation and drive positive change at multiple levels for children and youth.
  • Build momentum for a global movement to support a positive childhood that promotes equity and peace and respects local contexts and realities.

+ Learning Outcomes of the Global Summit on Childhood

  • The global trends, initiatives, and factors impacting children and childhood today
  • How the childhood experience contributes to the sustainability and well-being of communities
  • Systemic connections and cross-disciplinary linkages that contribute to a positive childhood experience
  • How social innovation, collaboration, and best practices promote positive childhood outcomes
  • Areas for advocacy and support for childhood that promotes equity and peace as it pertains to their work with children and their community.

2016 Site Visits

 Summit Participants had the opportunity
to visit the following institutions:

United World College Costa Rica

University for Peace (UPEACE)

Earth Charter International

Global Summit

Vancouver, Canada,
10-13 April 2014


Summit session videos
on our YouTube page

Program Book


Global Summit

Washington, DC,
28-31 March 2012

Highlight Video