Why innovate?

UNICEF Image: A mother displays her child's short birth certificate generated by Mobile Vital Records System (Mobile VRS), at Mulago hospital.
A mother displays her child's short birth certificate generated by Mobile Vital Records System (Mobile VRS), at Mulago hospital.

In 2015, innovation is vital to the state of the world's children. Challenges have never been larger, or coming faster – urbanization, climate change, lack of employment opportunities, broken education systems, increased disparities and digital divides.

However, a new global infrastructure is being created that has potential to address these challenges. This is an infrastructure of openness, of collaboration across borders, of exploration, and of innovation for equity.

We see, in 135 countries around the world, young people pushing the boundaries of the possible and creating a future they want – and the future is appearing in the places that UNICEF works before it happens in the "global north."

From innovations in mobile money in Kenya, to birth registration in Nigeria, to new types of learning and teaching in Argentina – the connected world that we live in is generating and sharing opportunities in a fundamentally different way in 2015 than it ever has before.

Access to information is fundamental to innovation for equity. The biggest change that we need to foster, and that is happening already in some places, is the push to get connectivity (access to information, opportunity, and choice) to the world's most marginalized populations. This fundamentally underlies a great deal of the innovation agenda – because without access to information and connectivity young people are stifled and put at risk.

UNICEF Innovation is comprised of:

  • An Innovation Unit in New York that supports UNICEF programmes on the ground and the organization at large through integration of technology, design thinking and partnerships with the private sector and academia.
  • An Innovation Center in Nairobi that identifies and field tests scalable innovations.
  • A node in San Francisco that builds partnerships with the technology sector, and will help scale social innovation startups.
  • An innovation group around Supply in Copenhagen, which works closely with private sector and other partners on supply and product innovation.
  • A network of 14 Innovation Labs around the world (from Armenia to Zambia) that bring together the private sector, academia, and the public sector to develop solutions for key social issues, and ensure we are always watching for new ideas from unexpected places.



New enhanced search