Combating adultocentrism: the proposal of children in Peru to confront the climatic, migratory, and social instability crisis.

  • December 11, 2023
  • Area: Climate change and DRM, Governance
  • At an event attended by Inger Ashing, Global CEO of Save the Children, authorities, and representatives of civil society committed to strengthening the participation of children in decision-making spaces.
  • The proposals, needs, and interests of children in Peru will be channeled to global spaces such as COP28 and the Global Refugee Forum 2023.

In an era marked by the climate emergency, the migration crisis, social instability and uncertainty, representatives of children and adolescents in Peru demanded that authorities, civil society organizations, and international cooperation commit to combating adultocentrism as a formula to address the various problems threatening their present and future. In a high-level event, they emphasized that their voices must be taken into account in different decision-making spaces.

We live in an adultocentric society. We want to participate in existing spaces or new participation spaces to voice our concerns about issues affecting us, such as climate change, health, and education.

Anaí, teenager from the Movement of Working Children and Adolescents in Peru (MNNATSOP).

The first challenge for children is the long-standing fight against adultocentrism. The structure of our system is focused on adults and how they can decide.

Ana Paula, teenage activist from Quinta Ola.

There is so much adultocentrism that some children say ‘that will be dealt with by adults, our duty is only to study.’ That mentality seems very wrong to me. We must work together to address issues. Climate change is a global challenge, regardless of age or gender; it affects us all in the end.

Illary, teenager from the Advisory Council of Children and Adolescents.

Currently, the most vulnerable children in Peru are suffering the worst consequences of the policrisis. Testimonies collected by Save the Children in different parts of the country show diverse problems: difficulties in accessing education, health, and nutrition services, limitations on the right to play and recreation, mental health issues, and an increase in violence. In summary, a scenario that demands collective, coordinated, and multisectoral solutions.

“We cannot understand climate change without understanding structural inequalities, as these gender, ethnicity, and migratory status inequalities end up permeating the experiences of boys and girls,” said Evelyn Buenaño, National Advocacy Director of Save the Children in Peru.

In the high-level intergenerational dialogue “Generation Hope: Childhood and Adolescence in Contexts of Climate Crisis, Migration, and Social Instability“, Save the Children Global CEO Inger Ashing participated, along with Save the Children’s Country Director in Peru, William Campbell. Also in attendance were Save the Children Regional Director Victoria Ward, Deputy CEO Patrick Hayden, and Robert Good, a board member of Save the Children International.

Save the Children highlighted the importance of giving children and adolescents the space to participate in decisions that affect them directly. They emphasized that the experiences, proposals, needs, and interests of children and adolescents in Peru will be channeled to global spaces such as COP28 and the Global Refugee Forum 2023.

“We want to ensure that the voices of children and adolescents are heard in the international arena, especially in forums where global decisions are made, such as COP28 and the Global Refugee Forum 2023,” said Inger Ashing, Save the Children’s Global CEO.

The policrisis we face and the rights children are not accessing have been widely described. Many things are being done, but we are not doing enough. My question to all of you is: what are you going to do? I want everyone to start thinking about that and commit to doing more than we are doing. My commitment, which I want you to join, is that we really need to be stronger advocates for children’s rights. We know these rights are not realized rights. We must be clear about that in our commitment to change the landscape.

Inger Ashing, Global CEO of Save the Children.

The intergenerational dialogue was closed by Elba Espinoza Rios, Vice Minister of Vulnerable Populations of the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP): “The generation of girls and boys rising today is a resilient and hopeful regeneration. That’s why we are committed to building a better country for everyone, with them,” she said.

Save the Children organized this activity with the aim of analyzing and proposing mechanisms that facilitate the construction of solutions to the policrisis context from the perspective of childhood and adolescence.


Health affects us and affects us more in rural areas. There are no health posts, and if there are, we don’t have health personnel. The climate crisis I have seen is strongly influencing my region. In Apurímac, there are heavy rains, hail, which affects farmers in their crops and in economic matters, in food and in families. Because of this, families must migrate to other places and lose the culture they came from. We are not the problem; we are part of the solution. We are the present and also the future.

Anaí, teenager from the Movement of Working Children and Adolescents in Peru (MNNATSOP).

It’s incredible to see how basic rights are violated by having one nationality or another, or by living in one place or another. There are many more children who need to be heard, who need to carry the voices of more children. There are still many adults who think that childhood and adolescence are the future, but no. In reality, we are a present that needs the opportunity to correct past mistakes.

Ana Paula, teenage activist from Quinta Ola.

Education is not so good in various areas. Many times we concentrate on Lima and forget about all those regions that are part of Peru. Lima is not all of Peru. All those problems that we will not be able to fix now will affect us, the next generation. We have to make the change from now on, because we can give opinions and answers not only at the national level, but at the global level and from different perspectives..

Illary, adolescent of the Advisory Council of Girls, Boys and Adolescents.


The will of the Peruvian State is to document and give residence to those people who want to be regularly in the country. We have to appreciate that migration is not a negative element, it is an element that adds. We have to educate ourselves as Peruvians in the sense of being a welcoming country. And that is not just telling the migrant what has to be regularized, but telling Peruvian society why it is important for us to understand that process. We have to integrate.

Armando García Chunga, National Superintendent of Migration.

In our country there have been national policies in which the participation of children has been incorporated not only as a right, but as a public policy management mechanism . Within this framework, our country has made many advances, but we still have challenges. We have 100% of regional governments that have Advisory Councils for Children and Adolescents. And of the 196 provinces nationwide, 106 have advisory councils. However, of the 1,696 districts, only 583 have their councils. There is still a huge gap in the institutionalization of the participation of children and adolescents. We still have to face the adult-centred model.

María Del Carmen Santiago Bailetti, Directorate of Policies for Girls, Boys and Adolescents.

I don’t know if the problem is adultcentrism, or if the problem is between authoritarianism and democracy. Because there may be guys like you who can be authoritarian. The issue is: how do we work for the common good? How do we protect the little ones from the big ones? The question is: is it adultcentrism? Or is it democracy vs adultcentrism? The big problem is how we modify this authoritarian culture for a democratic culture.

Emma Rosa Aguirre Fortunic, Director of the Directorate of Initial Education of the Ministry of Education.

In Peru we have a National Adaptation Plan that was approved in 2021 and that includes the intergenerational approach, the differentiated impacts on women and children, indigenous peoples. Of course, there is much more we can do. At MINAM we try to have allies to have decentralized spaces for participation. We must continue working on strengthening capacities, looking at the curriculum to see if we can make improvements in climate education issues.

Cristina Rodríguez, Director of Adaptation to Climate Change and Desertification of the Ministry of the Environment.

Discrimination is one of the problems that most affects our country. It has dismembered our social fabric. This inheritance makes the path a little more difficult for our boys and girls. I agree that adultcentrism is one of the most serious problems in public policies, because we tend to discriminate against the opinions of our children. In the Ministry of Culture we have the Pact for indigenous and Amazonian children, promoted to eradicate violence against these vulnerable children.

Karen Reyna Oba Segama, Director of Cultural Diversity and Elimination of Racial Discrimination of the Ministry of Culture.


Children and adolescents represent 35% of migration. When we see how many have access to education, we have around 135,300, that is, we have a deficit of almost 280,000 outside the system. Migration in the end is a place. The processes of discrimination that lie in the host communities are accentuated. In the construction of what we are as an identity, I have always seen more similarities than differences. We are looking for the same thing, our desires are not at all in conflict. For our young people and children, we must continue adding.

Nancy Arellano, President of Veneactiva.

We must recognize that we have several debts as a State and civil society with the migrant population. Furthermore, the situation of political instability unfortunately does not only translate into the repression of protests, but also into other situations that affect rights, particularly of children and adolescents, such as the right to education. Without democracy there are no rights.

Germán Vargas, Public Advocacy Director of Paz y Esperanza.

There is a process of acceleration of impacts due to climate change, but also due to pollution. What guarantees do we give to children? We are talking about creating spaces for them to enter spaces for dialogue, discussion and debate, but on the other hand we are cutting off their future.

Micaela Guillén, National Coordinator of the Citizen Movement against to Climate Change.

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