ECA launches World Early Childhood Development Movement
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), the Authority has launched, on Monday, the World Early Childhood Development (WED) Movement a new glocal Initiative (“global aspiration with local impact”) in a virtual event. The initiative aims to develop a forward-looking plan for the Early Childhood Development sector (ECD), leveraging innovation to prepare children for the future and promoting their well-being in Abu Dhabi and around the world through a knowledge creation and dissemination platform.
The event was attended by H.H. Sheikha Mariam bint Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chair of ECA’s Higher Committee and Member of Board of Trustees, H.H. Sheikha Shamsa bint Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of ECA’s Board of Trustees, members of the Board of Trustees, and the two inaugural Co-Chairs of WED Movement’s Breakthrough Working Group (BWG), H.E. Omar Saif Ghobash and Cecilia Vaca Jones. In addition to members of the BWG who will be driving the WED Movement forward, the event was also attended by a group of Their Highnesses and Excellencies, ministers, director-generals, government representatives and partners.
H.H. Sheikh Theyab said: “Early Childhood Development is a major priority for the Abu Dhabi Government. We believe in the impact of a child’s early years on their lives and future and we are looking forward to equipping young people with the knowledge and skills needed to overcome challenges, cope with change and contribute to building their communities.”
“It is well known that early childhood is one of the most vital sectors on which sustainable development is based. Therefore, creating a safe, stable and supportive environment for children’s development and well-being is important for building children’s capabilities and preparing them for the future,” Sheikh Theyab added.
Under the directives of Sheikh Theyab, the WED Movement brings together global experts, decision-makers, academics, innovators, investors and practitioners from a wide range of fields, to enhance the initiative’s outcomes in the UAE and the world. It also aims to curate the best possible outcomes to positively impact the lives of all children in the near term and in the future.
The WED Movement is part of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Development Strategy for 2035 that also reflects the country’s 2021 vision, coinciding with the UAE’s Golden Jubilee year and setting out an integrated vision for Emirati society over the next fifty years.
In this regard, Cecilia Vaca Jones, Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, and Co-Chair of the BWG, said: “Imagine if we could promote a healthy lifestyle for all children. I hope to see many different milestones and gather amazing people to join WED Movement.”
“I hope that WED Movement will disrupt the ECD system, launch new solutions and, most importantly, bring children back into the process. The world will need more resilient people,” she stated.
For his part, H.E. Omar Saif Ghobash, MOFAIC Assistant Minister for Culture and Public Diplomacy, and Co-Chair of the BWG, said: “The diverse composition of the BWG will enable its members to approach longstanding challenges related to Early Childhood Development in new and innovative ways. The collaboration between BWG members from different personal and professional backgrounds will be a crucial part of the process and I am looking forward to being a part of those discussions.”
The launch of WED Movement reflects the Government of Abu Dhabi’s broader commitment to improving ECD services and outcomes, as outlined in the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Development Strategy for 2035 and overseen by ECA, in close collaboration with entities such as the Department of Education and Knowledge, Department of Health, Department of Community Development, Abu Dhabi Police and Ministry of Education.
Throughout the year, WED will host an array of activities aimed at increasing public awareness of the ECD sector. These include documentary series, podcasts, childrens content and the creation of an interactive knowledge-sharing platform that connects, engages and enables the world’s ECD entities to exchange knowledge and expertise. Moreover, a children’s running event will be organized in Abu Dhabi, in which youngsters across the globe will be able to participate.
This year, the agenda for WED Movement will culminate in a two-day forum to be hosted by Abu Dhabi in November 2021, in conjunction with World Children’s Day, at which the BWG’s findings and recommendations will be unveiled.
The first edition of WED Movement will focus on three topics: the first is about tech humanity for children and aims to pave the way towards the 5th industrial revolution, while the second addresses the 21st Century lifestyle, to encourage a better lifestyle with improved physical and mental health outcomes. The third topic aims at improving emotional well-being and social interaction of children and those around them.
The WED Movement is supervised by BWGs bringing together a diverse mix of the world’s most prominent experts and innovators, along with members from Harvard University, the WHO, YouTube and UNICEF. Throughout the year, they will come together to develop action plans and procedures to advance the ECD sector.
The initiative targets parents, children, partners, policy-makers, civil society entities, research organizations, social investment funds, innovation centers and private sector institutions, with the aim of implementing the best interventions to support the ECD sector locally and globally.