What we do

The Office of Innovation supports countries around the world and works with the private sector to apply technology that can address the challenges facing today’s children.

In March, adolescent boys perch in a window at Gesdi Dia Basic School, in Ajumako District. The school has more than 1,100 students, and some classrooms have as many as 80 students.

The Office of Innovation supports countries around the world and works with the private sector to apply technology that can address the challenges facing today’s children.

In today’s world, innovation has become even more vital. Children are increasingly affected by global challenges, including the widening gulf between rich and poor, rapid urbanization and climate change. Nearly one child in four is living in a country affected by humanitarian crisis, and almost 50 million children have been uprooted from their homes. The evolving global landscape has necessitated that UNICEF adapt and create new solutions to confront the challenges and meet children’s needs.

UNICEF has spent 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families. In the past 25 years alone, the organization has helped to reduce the number of children dying before their fifth birthdays by half and lift hundreds of millions of children out of poverty. Since 1990, out-of-school rates among primary school- aged children have declined by over 40 per cent. Throughout UNICEF’s history, innovation has been critical to its achievements. We have worked with partners to develop technologies to keep vaccines cold; create better solutions for identifying and treating child malnutrition; and pioneer techniques for bringing safe water to rural communities. In recent years, UNICEF has used mobile technology to mobilize millions of young people to create lasting change in their communities.

Children play on a fallen tree in Vanuatu
Vlad Sohkin
On 29 March 2015, children play on a fallen tree that came down during Cyclone Pam on 13 Marchs 2015 and has crushed a car on the outskirts of Port Vila in Vanuatu.

Our partnerships, including those with the private sector, have been instrumental to our work in innovation.

Corporate partners, at both the local and global levels, have introduced new essential products and services in the areas of healthcare, education, water and sanitation that have enabled better service delivery in challenging contexts. As the pace of change and the role of tech in daily life continue to accelerate, the technology sector has a particularly transformative role to play in our ability to deliver for children. We work with partners to:

Strengthen government systems/institutions using technology such as real-time information, chatbots and health information centres.

Apply machine learning to gain critical insights into the needs of vulnerable populations and make more informed decisions about how to invest our resources.

Partner with internet platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, to increase access to information for vulnerable populations.

Explore emerging technology solutions with the technology sector, including opportunities that have the potential to deliver social impact in new contexts. 

Invest in new solutions from local technology partners in emerging areas such as drones, blockchain, extended reality , data science  and artificial intelligence.

 The following set of principles represents a concerted effort by donors to capture the most important lessons learned by the development community in the implementation of technology-enabled programmes.

Principles of Digital Development
UNICEF Office of Innovation