UNICEF and Denmark announce innovation hub to deliver global water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions

22 August 2022
Saheli (5) gets proper handwashing lessons from her grand mother.Location : Damor Fala, Bawali, Rajasthan, India

COPENHAGEN/STOCKHOLM, August 23, 2022 –   UNICEF and the Government of Denmark announced today the establishment of a new innovation hub to discover and deliver solutions to the global water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) challenges affecting billions of children and families globally.  

According to the latest estimates by the UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Programme on WASH in households, around 1 in 4 people still lack safely managed drinking water; nearly half the world’s population do not have safely managed sanitation; and 3 in 10 people worldwide do not have a place to wash their hands with soap and water at home. To address this, progress must quadruple globally to achieve universal access to WASH services by 2030.  

The new UNICEF Office of Innovation sustainable WASH innovation hub, based in Copenhagen, will maximise the collective potential of a network of Danish and global experts and market leaders to catalyze research, develop, and scale innovative solutions that deliver accelerated results to address this global challenge.   

The Sustainable Development Goals set as a 2030 target the ‘universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water’. At the societal level, meeting this target is essential to mitigate the risk of instability, as access to natural resources and water scarcity are known drivers of conflict and migration. And in many countries, women and girls often walk long distances to the nearest well or pump to collect water, leading to less time for education and employment, and increased exposure to violence.  

”I am very concerned by the global water crisis and its wider implications for the world’s children. Access to water, sanitation and hygiene is a basic human right and at the core of sustainable development and climate adaptation,” said the Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Flemming Møller Mortensen. “I believe that UNICEF sustainable WASH innovation hub in Copenhagen will provide a unique opportunity for UNICEF to draw on the strong Danish solutions and know-how within WASH. It will be key for tackling the water crisis and establishing innovative partnerships for the benefit of children and their families at a global scale.“ 

"To solve age old problems, we need new, bold and ambitious solutions and investments,” said Fayaz King, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director of Field Results and Innovation. “Through the sustainable WASH innovation hub, UNICEF and the Government of Denmark are doing just that: investing in climate-resilient innovations to deliver better outcomes for this generation and the next.” 

Climate change has a tremendous negative impact on WASH services. Water scarcity and competing demands for resources are widening service equity gaps. Through a dynamic network of partners, experts and end-users, UNICEF will identify, pilot, and scale innovative solutions designed to enable inclusive access to environmentally and financially sustainable WASH services for children and young people in low- and middle-income countries.  

The sustainable WASH innovation hub in Copenhagen will be guided by a diverse international team of innovation and WASH experts, complemented by collaborators in private and public industries, and in partnerships with the Danish National Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF Denmark). 

The UNICEF Office of Innovation is pioneering this business structure to align closely with countries around the world with a shared passion for delivering impactful innovations for every child everywhere- connecting local innovation ecosystems to global innovation ecosystems for bold impact. The sustainable WASH innovation hub is the third thematic hub, alongside the UNICEF Office of Innovation’s central headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden.   

Media contacts

Yemi Lufadeju
Communication Manager, Office of Innovation

About UNICEF Office of Innovation 

UNICEF’s Office of Innovation is an agile global architecture aligning with diverse partners to boldly explore and scale innovative approaches and technologies to deliver equitable impact and opportunity for every child today, and an accelerated pace of change for generations to come.  


About UNICEF Denmark 

The Danish National Committee, UNICEF Denmark, is the foundation that serves as the public face and voice of UNICEF in Denmark. UNICEF Denmark is monitoring the state of children’s rights locally in Denmark, as well as mobilising resources for UNICEF’s global humanitarian and development work through partnerships and engagement with the Danish private sector and public. UNICEF Denmark is among the largest national committees per capita and is a driver of innovative shared value partnerships