UNICEF Inspire Awards 2020

Most Successful Media Moment & Best in Brand

Sophie Chavanel, Chief of Communications and Youth Engagement
les enfants sourient
UNICEF/Frank Dejongh
28 June 2020

UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire’s successful communication campaign for its recycled plastic brick project was recognised at this year’s UNICEF Inspire Awards. At the event, UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire was presented with two awards: Most Successful Media Moment and Best in Brand. 

Official logo UNICEF Inspire Awards 2020

UNICEF Inspire Awards is an annual global event aiming to encourage the sharing of experiences, good practices and lessons learned, and to recognise the work done by UNICEF offices around the world in private sector fundraising, advocacy, communication and engagement. There are 22 categories and 4 special prizes, including: Best in Brand, Best Fundraising Campaign, People’s Choice Award and the Inspire Award 2020.  

Most Successful Media Moment 


UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire was awarded the Most Successful Media Moment award for its successful media campaign on its recycled plastic brick project, which reached 1.8 billion people globally, gathered support from the government, inspired young people to take climate action, and mobilised more than 12.4 million USD​ in 2019.  

Construction of new classes in Sangouine, a village in the West of Côte d'Ivoire. Classes were built with plastic bricks made out of recycled plastic.
UNICEF/Franck Dejongh
Construction of new classes in Sangouine, a village in the West of Côte d'Ivoire.

UNICEF Côte d'Ivoire partnered with Conceptos Plásticos, a Colombian social enterprise, to transform Côte d'Ivoire’s plastic waste into safe and sustainable building materials to construct urgently-needed classrooms for children.  

The project has three main objectives:  

  • Contribute to making the planet greener. 

  • Build schools for children. 

  • Help lift women out of poverty by strengthening the plastic recycling market and the circular economy. 

Construction of the first plastic bricks factory in Western Africa in Youpougon, a suburb of Abidjan, the capital of Côte d'Ivoire.
UNICEF/2020/Frank Dejongh
Construction of the first plastic bricks factory in Western Africa in Youpougon, a suburb of Abidjan, the capital of Côte d'Ivoire.

The first plastic brick factory was built in 2019 in Abidjan. It was the first of its kind in Africa. UNICEF committed to building 528 classrooms by the end of 2021 to provide a safe learning environment to 26,400 students. So far, 42 classrooms have been built.   

In 2019, we developed a communication strategy with the main objective of promoting this innovative recycled plastic brick project and giving it the highest visibility to gather support, build donor loyalty and encourage new donations. 

The objectives of the media strategy were to: 

  1. Raise awareness about the project internally, nationally and globally.  

  1. Gather support locally and nationally to be able to bring this innovation to life and to scale.  

  1. Fundraise globally to mobilise the resources needed to build the factory in Côte d’Ivoire and construct classrooms, toilets, a health storage and so much more!  

A global press release was sent out to media around the world when UNICEF announced it had broken ground on the first-of-its-kind factory: UNICEF breaks ground on Africa’s first-of-its-kind recycled plastic brick factory in Côte d'Ivoire

The project was featured in top-tier media around the world, including:  


Thanks to its solid media strategy, UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire achieved a potential reach of 1.8 billion people globally and was mentioned 638 in the media. A sentiment analysis revealed that 56% of media coverage was positive and 44% neutral (see the complete media analysis).  


Special Award - Best in Brand 

In addition to our media strategy, we also built a plastic brick classroom display at the climate change-themed UN General Assembly in September 2019. 


UNICEF/Frank Dejongh
Time-lapse video of UNGA

While young people around the world were taking to the streets to demand climate actions from leaders around the world, this project showed a concrete solution at the right time. The project was then featured in a Forbes op-ed by UNICEF’s Executive Director titled The World’s Children Need Clean Water, Clean Air And A Safe Climate. More top-tier media covered the story in NYC and on the ground, including Al Jazeera, who broadcasted live from the classroom display. 

Media content was amplified on social media by UNICEF offices around the world, influencers and stakeholders, including the Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, the World Economic Forum, NowThis and UNICEF Global Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon.  

UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire 

UNICEF Global and National Committees 

Stakeholders and Influencers 


At the national level, we also organised a series of visits with hundreds of people who shared their concerns on social media. They were invited to visit our Innovation Centre – built with plastic bricks – so that they could see the project and ask questions. Most of them then became online ambassadors of the project and responded to concerns raised by other social media users.  


Thank you! 

None of this would have been possible without our partners. First, our thanks go to Conceptos Plásticos, our partner in this amazing adventure.  We also thank the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Hygiene and Sanitation as well as the Ministry of Water and Forest. Finally, we would like to thank our donors, including MSC Foundation, the Governments of Canada and South Korea, and UNICEF Switzerland, Spain, Germany, USA, Belgium, Luxemburg, United Kingdom, Netherlands and France for their support to kick-start this initiative and build a better future for children.