Saturday, 25 November 2017

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Innovation and Collaboration: keys to reaching the world’s most vulnerable children

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24 November 2014. The progress and the benefits of  remarkable changes that are taking place in the world are not shared equally. This was one of the key messages at a meeting on the Internaional day of Children 20 November, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Brussels.

UNICEF Brussels and the European Commission organized the lunchtime conference to reflect on the achievements of the past 25 years and present their plans for future collaborative efforts to promote the rights of children worldwide.

Phillipe Cori, Director of the UNICEF office in Brussels, highlighted the close relationship that UNICEF has had over the past 25 years with the EU, both in terms of funding and policy formation. He stressed the increasing need for partnerships and the strengthening of networks between international institutions, governments and civil society in order to successfully target first and foremost the world’s most vulnerable children.

ChildrensrightsJean-Louis Ville, Head of Unit at DEVCO B.1 of the European Commission, gave a recent example of where this collaboration has led to concrete progress in enabling actors to ensure that the protection of rights for children remains a policy priority. The 'Child Rights Toolkit: Integrating child rights in development cooperation' has been developed as a joint project between UNICEF and the EU to strengthen the capacity of development partners, European Commission staff, bilateral donors and other development actors to integrate a child rights approach throughout development programming, budgeting, policy-making and law making.

ChildreportUNICEF’s key messages for the post-2015 world provided the basis for Verena Knaus of UNICEF Brussels’ presentation of the State of the World’s Children Report:

• The world is changing rapidly. But the progress and the benefits of this remarkable change are not shared equally.
• We face persistent inequities and extreme disparities.
• Today’s children are born into an increasingly connected world where lines between global and local problems are blurred.
• Global warming knows no borders.
• Disease and conflict spill over borders, just as people and ideas move faster than ever before.

The title of the 2015 report, ‘Reimagining the future: Innovation for every child’, reflects UNICEF’s belief that innovation is key to adapting to these new challenges. The report will also encourage the international community to be bolder and more inclusive. Ms. Knaus gave a few examples of this kind of innovation. These included floating schools and health clinics to reach communities stranded by floods during monsoon season, and solar-powered hearing devices for children with hearing impairments.Child on the streets of UbudHeidi and Matt  Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The report itself is the first of its kind, in that it is digital and crowd-sourced. The idea of these innovations is that they will be equitable- open-source, participatory and designed with and for the user to address the needs of the most marginalised children.

The digital platform allows anyone to browse through, connect with other innovators and share their own ideas and innovations. It’s not “UNICEF’s report, but ‘our report’”.
The conference concluded in this participatory spirit, as Ms. Knaus announced the launch of UNICEF’s #IMAGINE initiative. In order to raise awareness and funds for children’s rights, global citizens are invited to help create the world’s biggest ever sing-along, by downloading the free Touchcast app and recording their own version of John Lennon’s Imagine to share with friends. From this material, David Guetta will create a ‘world version’ of the song to be released in time for New Year’s Eve.

Collaborative and innovative action such as this will help UNICEF to continue to protect the rights of the world’s most vulnerable children as we pass 25 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and as the international community maintains the ongoing effort towards creating a fairer world post-2015.

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