Within the UNICEF Office of Innovation is a creative, agile, interdisciplinary team tasked with identifying and advancing technologies and practices that strengthen UNICEF’s work in helping provide lifesaving information and services to children and families. Uniquely positioned where major global issues intersect with startup thinking, UNICEF Innovation fosters collaboration across sectors and across borders, building partnerships around “frontier technologies” to drive toward scalable solutions. These solutions include:
UNICEF uses new or existing digital technologies and adapts them into solutions to accelerate results for children, including virtual and augmented reality lessons, data and digital health tools that reduce stock-outs of essential commodities, accessible digital textbooks and mobile youth platforms that empower millions of young people.
UNICEF builds non-traditional mechanisms of raising resources to meet children’s needs such as bridge funds, blended finance, crowdsourcing, catastrophe bonds and cryptocurrency donations.
UNICEF creates new or improves existing physical goods to meet the needs of children and young people, including portable incubators, accessible latrine slabs for children with disabilities, compressed air for pneumonia, new diagnostic tools and extreme weather-resistant tents to use as emergency shelter or health clinics.
UNICEF deploys different approaches, processes and ways of working improve efficiency and effectiveness. These innovations include ‘smart’ contracts, human-centered program design, behavior science-driven communication for development, and the use of creative tools to engage adolescents in preparing for emergencies.
A huge part of the Innovation agenda is to connect the world’s most marginalized populations and to empower young people with access to information, opportunities and choices. UNICEF uses technology and new approaches to engage young people around the world, connect them to their governments and provide opportunities to ensure that they are future ready.
UNICEF's approach to innovation is rooted in the following principles for digital development:
UNICEF’s Global Innovation Center (GIC), part of the Office of Innovation, analyzes efforts and scales the successes. The GIC leverages and provides support to a global network of UNICEF offices, specialists and UN organizations in nearly 150 countries. To date, the GIC has supported 85 countries to identify, adopt and adapt innovative solutions — affecting the lives of over 100 million people.