Yesterday, World Bank Group President, Jim Yong King, and UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, released a joint statement urging global and national leaders to make a greater investment in early childhood. Through a new alliance, the two groups aim to make early childhood development a global policy and spending priority in order to give all children access to high-quality early education, and nutrition programs.

Globally, millions of children are at risk for never reaching their full development potential. Both World Group President, Jim Yong Kim and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake realize the full global and economic consequences of not making an investment in children around the world.

“The time has come to treat childhood stunting as a development and an economic emergency,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “How will countries compete in what will certainly be a more digitalized global economy in the future if a third or more of their children are stunted? Our failure to make the right investments in early childhood development is condemning millions of children to lives of exclusion. We can’t promise to equalize development outcomes, but we can insist on equalizing opportunity.

“What we are learning about all the elements that affect the development of children’s brains – whether their bodies are well nourished, whether their minds are stimulated, whether they are protected from violence – is already changing the way we think about early childhood development. Now it must change the way we act,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

Brain scientists, educators, economists, and public health experts agree that quality early childhood programs produce greater outcomes for children and society. Investing in early childhood education is a solution that creates upward mobility through opportunity. What’s more, every dollar invested in quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children delivers economic gains of 7 to 10 percent per year through increased school achievement, healthy behavior and adult productivity, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman.

By investing in early childhood programs, such as education and nutrition, we are preparing children to succeed in school and be productive members of society. FFYF applauds the World Bank Group and UNICEF for making a bold statement and investing in our greatest resource – children.