The biggest challenges that face the world are not going to be solved by one organization or one group of people in just one country. They will be overcome by an interdisciplinary group of people working across industries, countries, and cultures. By drawing on the skills and expertise of academics, designers, technologists, computer programmers, entrepreneurs, community health workers, government, scientists, and engineers, and by creating solutions that build local talent and local capacity, UNICEF can help foster innovative solutions that have global impact.
Our Office works to create new partnership structures that can narrow the gap between technologies (and practices) and the people we need to reach. Our partners apply their expertise, networks, internal platforms and data to not only delivering viable business strategies, but to creating long-term value for entire populations, systems and countries.
Knowing that the kind of results we want are impossible by traditional means alone, we look to collaborate with an interdisciplinary group of people working across industries, countries and cultures. UNICEF Office of Innovation focuses on multiple types of partnerships: Private Sector, Academic, Government, the UN, and Civil Society.
Private sector – convening corporations (like ARM, Amadeus, Google, Facebook, Telefonica, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer) designers, entrepreneurs, and other development partners around the intersection of high-growth tech industries and social good. An example: UNICEF works with Facebook on research related to Zika in Brazil – which significantly increased public awareness, grabbed attention, and led to 82% of respondents in a national survey saying they planned to take action to protect themselves from Zika (significantly higher than pre-campaign results).
Academic – bringing shared value through the exchange of ideas, joint capacity building, and opportunities for applied research. From a joint partnership with a ministerial-level entity and one of China’s top universities: The Tsinghua University Global Innovation Centre for Children, to creating the Art Center Graduate Program “Design for UNICEF” in Mexico (which also ran for 5 years in Uganda), and teaching similar courses at NYU and MIT.
Government – taking successful solutions to scale, supporting local entrepreneurs, and addressing the evolving challenges affecting all children. From collaborating with the Governments of Malawi and Vanuatu on Drone Testing Corridors (providing industry partners with a safe space to test new solutions, and to engage in community outreach and capacity building activities), to working with the Government of the Republic of Korea (a founding strategic partner) to scale innovations globally.
In more detail, UNICEF Office of Innovation partners with Governments in three main ways.
Governments are UNICEF’s key partners in taking successful solutions to scale. UNICEF works with governments to strengthen their systems to deliver programmes and policies that realise children’s rights. Successful innovations we have taken to scale are integrated into government systems and help strengthen their accountability.
U-Report has been used with the governments of Brazil, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Sierra Leone to harness the power of young people during public health emergencies. It enables young people to access vital information and services — about where to get help, how to act and whom to contact — as well as enabling them to provide real-time information using multiple channels including SMS, IVR, and various social media channels. systems and help strengthen their accountability.
We partner with governments to scale-up innovations and support local entrepreneurs to become the next generation of problem-solvers. The Government of Denmark is an investor in the UNICEF Innovation Fund, a pooled funding mechanism that allows UNICEF to rapidly assess, fund and grow open source technology solutions for children. UNICEF has combined principles from venture capital with our expertise in development, and is investing in early-stage projects built by entrepreneurs in UNICEF’s programme countries.
The Government of the Republic of Korea is a core sponsor of the Global Innovation Centre, funding the scale up of innovations at national scale in dozens of countries.
We work with Governments to craft partnerships to scan and develop future solutions. Our Government partners and their networks are an important ally in helping us to be a convening force across the UN system and beyond, in innovative solutions for children. They can also help us identify new private sector partners that share the vision of “Doing Good is Good Business”.
Our Government partners and their networks are an importantally in helping us to be a convening force across the UN system and beyond, in innovative solutions for children. They can also help us identify new private sector partners that share the vision of “Doing Good is Good Business.” In November, 2015 over 500 change-makers across private sector, government, the UN system and entrepreneurs gathered in Helsinki, Finland to explore how we can use innovation to improve the lives of children and young people everywhere. The Global Innovations for Children Summit, a joint effort of Government of Finland and UNICEF, allowed new partnerships across agencies and sectors to be formed that will support scale-up of new innovations for development.
UN – serving as a convening force across the UN system, co-creating and implementing solutions, and leveraging local and global networks. As an example: helping to set up Global Pulse (the UN Secretary General’s flagship initiative on big data), co-leading the UN Innovation Network, and co-hosting the first UN conference on Artificial Intelligence
Civil Society – working with the civil society including NGOs and youth organisations both at the global and country level. Types of partnerships vary from hosting an innovation lab to running a design challenge, to co-creating and implementing solutions, and also leveraging local and global networks of problem solvers.
1) Country-level partnerships
Kosovo* – Peer Educators Network (PEN) – PEN is a non-governmental youth organisation in Kosovo that is established to activate young people as active citizens in the development of the community where they live. PEN hosts Innovation Lab Kosovo (an intrapreneurial unit of UNICEF Kosovo), and through our collaborative work with PEN, we have been successful in developing innovative youth empowerment programmes such as “By Youth For Youth” and its social impact workshop “UPSHIFT.” *Kosovo is used here and thereafter pursuant to UN Resolution 1244
Vietnam – Viet Youth Entrepreneurs (VYE) – VYE is Vietnam’s first and only student-run organisation for start-up and entrepreneurship. In 2015, UNICEF Innovation Lab in Vietnam partnered with VYE to pilot UPSHIFT, the social impact workshop that started in Kosovo*, but this time it was in Ho Chi Minh City. VYE is an excellent partner for UPSHIFT because of the common focus on youth development and empowerment, expertise in delivering experiential learning programs, and a keen ability to leverage their student network to have youth-led volunteers that are able to work closely with the participants.
2) Global partnerships
Scouts & Girl Guides helping U-Report scale globally – each element of the U-Report scale-up strategy relies heavily on the support of strategic partners who can carry on the programme’s main goals: scale, engage and achieve positive change. One of our major global partners in these efforts is the Scouts and Girl Guides. Global youth organizations like the Scouts and Girl Guides, along with technology providers and the private sector, can help ensure that promotion and recruitment of U-Reporters into U-Report has the highest possible reach, that the necessary tools to engage young people are in place, and that the data can be channelled for use in major advocacy efforts. Partnerships at the country and global level ensure that data are actioned and that referral and orientation mechanisms are supported to enact real change, including facilitating access to and the use of real-time data by decision makers.