UNICEF Ambassadors, supporters and world leaders turn out around the world to commemorate 75 years of UNICEF

11 December 2021
A girl goes back to school in Burkina Faso
A girl heads to school in Burkina Faso

NEW YORK, 11 December 2021 – Presidents, government ministers, senior United Nations leadership, UNICEF Ambassadors, partners, and children and young people gathered at events around the world to commemorate UNICEF’s 75th anniversary this week.

“Since its founding 75 years ago in the aftermath of World War II, UNICEF has been working for every child, whoever they are and wherever they live,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “Today, the world is facing not one but a series of compounding crises, threatening to undermine decades of progress for children. This is a time for marking UNICEF’s history, but it is also a time for action by ensuring vaccines for all, revolutionizing learning, investing in mental health, ending discrimination, and addressing the climate crisis.”

To mark the occasion, UNICEF held its inaugural Global Forum for Children and Youth (CY21), co-hosted by the governments of Botswana and Sweden. More than 230 speakers from over 80 countries participated in the event, including UN Secretary General António Guterres, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Republic of Botswana H.E. Dr Mokgweetsi E.K. Masisi, the Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden Matilda Elisabeth Ernkrans, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and education advocate Muzoon Almellehan, representatives of more than 200 organizations across businesses, philanthropy, civil society, and children and young people. During the event, UNICEF partners reaffirmed more than 100 commitments to accelerate results for children and young people.

Around the world, royal family members, presidents, ministers, government officials and UNICEF representatives united with children and young people to commemorate the 75th anniversary:

  • In Nepal, UNICEF hosted a regional event at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation with decision-makers, influencers and young people, to renew commitments to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to accelerate action on issues impacting children in the region. A youth statement co-created by almost 500 South Asian youth was presented.
  • At the Bellevue Palace in Germany, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and UNICEF Patroness Elke Büdenbender hosted 12 members of UNICEF’s Youth Advisory Board to discuss their vision to reimagine the future for every child. 
  • In Spain, UNICEF Spain hosted a special anniversary event, attended by Her Majesty Queen Letizia, Queen of Spain and Honorary President of UNICEF Spain, ministers, the ombudsman, members of Congress, UNICEF Spain Ambassadors, partners and others guests, with a round table discussion on the challenges of protecting child rights in the context of COVID-19.
  • In Botswana and Lesotho, 75 letters written by children and young people outlining their visions for the future were presented to heads of government and representatives during parliamentary sessions.
  • In the Eastern Caribbean, Tanzania and Uruguay, intergenerational dialogues were held between youth advocates, government and UNICEF representatives on child rights issues in which young people shared their ideas, experiences and vision for the future.
  • In Italy, schoolchildren were invited to make a wish for UNICEF’s birthday and presented to national and regional representatives by the President of UNICEF Italy, encouraging commitment to deliver on their wishes during events organized with national firefighters, UNICEF Italy’s long serving Ambassadors.

Anniversary galas, concerts, exhibitions and other cultural events were held across the world with high-profile guests young and old in attendance, including: 

  • In the USA, UNICEF Ambassador Sofia Carson joined Executive Director Fore in the ceremonial lighting of the Empire State Building in New York. In addition, 10 national gala events premiering the documentary If You Have by Academy Award nominated director Ben Proudfoot were held across the country with $8.9 million raised for UNICEF’s work. Special guests included UNICEF Ambassadors Orlando Bloom, Sofia Carson, Danny Glover and Lucy Liu.
  • In the United Kingdom, the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) hosted its inaugural Blue Moon Gala in London, raising £770,000 to help UNICEF continue its work for children around the world. The gala was attended by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham, UNICEF UK President Olivia Colman, and UNICEF UK Ambassadors James Nesbitt, Tom Hiddleston and Eddie Izzard, with live musical performances from Duran Duran and Arlo Parks.  
  • In Eritrea, Moldova, Montenegro, Sierra Leone and the State of Palestine, concerts featuring youth orchestras, choirs and dance performances took place with presidents, ministers, dignitaries and other special guests in attendance. 
  • In Libya, Nigeria, Serbia, Spain, Turkey and Zambia, photo exhibitions were launched.
  • Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lao PDR, Lithuania and Oman, documentaries were produced to take guests on a visual journey through UNICEF’s past, present and vision for the future.

Many singers and musicians around the world released and dedicated songs to UNICEF, including:

  • Members of the Swedish pop group ABBA pledged to donate all the royalty payments from their new single Little Things to UNICEF.
  • UNICEF Regional Ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa Yara performed the song “We want to live”, and Tanzanian singer Abby Chams performed “Reimagine” at a World Children’s Day concert – the largest public event at Dubai EXPO 2020 with both songs released to the public to mark the anniversary.
  • In Norway, UNICEF Ambassador Sissel dedicated the song “If I can help somebody” to UNICEF, performing it on a national TV telethon to help spread the message of hope, passion and getting things done for every child over 75 years.

Other memorable initiatives included:

  • In collaboration with Monnaie de Paris, millions of commemorative €2 coins were produced and circulated across France.
  • The United Nations Postal Administration issued a special event stamp sheet to mark the anniversary. The 10-stamp sheet showcases programming and advocacy priorities in health, nutrition and vaccines, education, climate and water, sanitation and hygiene, mental health, and humanitarian response. National postal services in Croatia and Kyrgyzstan also issued commemorative stamps.
  • In Botswana, Denmark, France, Turkmenistan, USA, Zambia and many other countries around the world, landmark buildings and iconic monuments were illuminated in blue to mark UNICEF’s 75 years of unstoppable work for every child.
  • Through a partnership with TED Global, five Youth TED Talks were launched to amplify the ideas, expertise and vision of young people across the world around the theme of Reimagine. TEDx community-led events were also held in over 20 countries in partnership with UNICEF national offices.
  • UNICEF headquarters announced plans to sell 1,000 data-driven non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the UN’s largest-ever NFT collection to date, in honor of UNICEF’s 75th anniversary.

For 75 years, UNICEF has been at the frontlines of global humanitarian crises, armed conflict and natural disasters to help protect the rights and wellbeing of every child. In more than 190 countries and territories, UNICEF has helped build new health and welfare systems, defeated diseases, provided essential services, education and skills, and developed healthier and safer environments for children and their families.     

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Helen Wylie
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Girls play after school in Montevideo, Uruguay
Girls play after school in Montevideo, Uruguay

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