Government of Sweden and UNICEF strengthen global partnership for children

Visit affirms pioneering partnership between the Government of Sweden and UNICEF’s Office of Innovation to establish a global innovation center in Stockholm

25 May 2022
Minister for International Development Matilda Ernkrans and UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell with young scientists from Sweden at the Global Innovation Center in Stockholm
UNICEF/Jonas Borg
Minister for International Development Matilda Ernkrans and UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell with young scientists from Sweden at the Global Innovation Center in Stockholm

STOCKHOLM 25 MAY | UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell has concluded a two-day visit to Sweden. During the visit, Executive Director Russell met senior government officials to discuss shared priorities, the impact of Swedish support for some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children globally, and a new partnership to establish a global innovation center in Stockholm.

The Executive Director was also received at Drottningholms Palace by Her Royal Highness, Queen Silvia of Sweden in recognition of the longstanding partnership between Sweden and UNICEF to uphold children’s rights.

“In times of conflict and crisis, Sweden’s support enables UNICEF to meet the urgent and essential needs of millions of children sustainably, efficiently, and effectively,” said Catherine Russell, UNICEF Executive Director.

“Sweden’s support is not only generous, but forward looking. Investing in innovation is a critical enabler toward achieving equitable and inclusive impact globally. Hosting the UNICEF Office of Innovation’s headquarters in Stockholm will help UNICEF and Sweden leverage the dynamic network of cross-industry innovators in Sweden.  Together, we will help to build global innovation systems that design and deliver solutions at scale for every child, everywhere.”

The Executive Director Russell joined Matilda Ernkrans, Minister for International Development Cooperation, for a visit to the recently-opened global innovation center, where they met young climate innovators from Benin, Sweden, and Vietnam, including two young people from UNICEF’s flagship youth social innovator programme, UPSHIFT. Bui My Nhat from Vietnam illustrated the use of her UNESCO prize-winning gadget which removes plastic waste from oceans.  Alicia Larsen and Alice Heiman, from Sweden’s Young Scientist organization, presented their award-winning device – a digital sensor to test micro and nanoparticles in the air in metro stations. And Credo Luc shared his experience of sparking a network of young social innovators and changemakers in Benin.

The UNICEF Office of Innovation discovers, develops and scales innovative solutions by pushing the boundaries of innovative thinking, exploring the possibilities of innovative financing instruments, and leveraging frontier technology (Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, machine learning), all through bold partnerships that bring world-class expertise and resources that maximize the potential to accelerate the delivery of solutions at scale.

“Innovative solutions and partnerships are crucial to achieving the global goals for children and young people in Agenda 2030. Sweden is now building a strong innovation partnership with UNICEF, and we are proud to host the headquarters for the Office of Innovation in Stockholm. We will always be a partner and supporter of young people's voice and representation,” said Matilda Ernkrans, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation.

At the heart of OOI’s approach to innovation is a commitment to co-design solutions to global challenges with this generation of young social innovators and changemakers today, and prepare a globally diverse, inclusive workforce of social innovators to accelerate the delivery of results for every child everywhere for generations to come

“To solve any problem, it is necessary to solve it from the root. Education is the root of innovation, and the young generation is the root of the future.

“Thanks to Upshift, my team and I realized that we have the ability to make a change in the community and share our enthusiasm with other young people. Apart from the knowledge and inspiration to act for the environment, we were able to gain the necessary skills for life: from presentation, teamwork, leadership, time management, to communication, and planning crucial skills for starting our social venture,” said Bui My Nhat, UPSHIFT alumni.

UNICEF’s Office of Innovation has a central team based in Stockholm and ‘hubs’-- innovation centers of expertise -- located in various cities around the world. The central team’s presence in Stockholm since the end of 2021 has already helped create critical new partnerships with established Swedish companies, start-ups, and academia.

Notes to editors

Images from the day’s events are available here


Media contacts

Yemi Lufadeju
Communication Manager, Office of Innovation
Petter Gustafsson
Press Officer

About UNICEF Office of Innovation

The Office of Innovation delivers new or significantly improved solutions accelerating results and contributing to progress for children and young people everywhere. With our partners, we have the footprint to ensure innovative solutions are designed and delivered with and for this generation and coming generations of children and young people.

For more information about UNICEF’s Global Office of Innovation our website, LinkedIn and Twitter