Our Priorities


For UNICEF,innovation is defined as doing something new or different that adds value, and can refer to processes, products, programmes, or partnerships. Integrating innovation into existing programming offers an opportunity to solve bottlenecks at large scale, with relatively small interventions. 

UNICEF innovation work is built on a set of principles, which provide a common framework for working on innovation, and have been adopted by a number of partners both within and outside of the UN. 

Innovation Principles



Design with the user

  -Develop context appropriate solutions informed by user needs.

  -Include all user groups in planning, development, implementation and assessment.

  -Develop projects in an incremental and iterative manner.

  -Design solutions that learn from and enhance existing workflows and plan for organizational adaptation.

  -Ensure solutions are sensitive to, and useful for, the most marginalized populations:
women, children, those with disabilities, and those affected by conflict and disaster.

Understand the
existing ecosystem

  -Participate in networks and communities of like-minded practitioners.

  -Align to existing technological, legal, and regulatory policies.

Design for scale

  -Design for scale from the start, and assess and mitigate dependencies that might limit ability to scale.

  -Employ a “systems” approach to design, considering implications of design beyond an immediate project.

  -Be replicable and customizable in other countries and contexts.

  -Demonstrate impact before scaling a solution.

  -Analyse all technology choices through the lens of national and regional scale.

  -Factor in partnerships from the beginning and start early negotiations.

Build for

  -Plan for sustainability from the start, including planning for long-term financial health, i.e. assessing
total cost of ownership.

  -Utilize and invest in local communities and developers by default and help catalyze their growth.

  -Engage with local governments to ensure integration into national strategy and identify high-level
government advocates.

Be data driven

  -Design projects so that impact can be measured at discrete milestones with a focus on outcomes rather
than outputs.

  -Evaluate innovative solutions and areas where there are gaps in data and evidence.

  -Use real-time information to monitor and inform management decisions at all levels.

  -When possible, leverage data as a by-product of user actions and transactions for assessments.

Use open standards,
open data, open source, and open innovation

  -Adopt and expand existing open standards.

  -Use open data and functionalities and expose them in documented APIs (Application Programming
Interfaces) where use by a larger community is possible.

  -Invest in software as a public good.

  -Develop software to be open source by default with the code made available in public repositories and
supported through developer communities.

Reuse and improve

  -Use, modify and extend existing tools, platforms, and frameworks when possible.

  -Develop in modular ways, favoring approaches that are interoperable over those that are monolithic by design.

Do no harm

  -Assess and mitigate risks to the security of users and their data.

  -Consider the context and needs for privacy of personally identifiable information when designing
solutions and mitigate accordingly.

  -Ensure equity and fairness in co-creation, and protect the best interests of the end-users.

Be collaborative

  -Engage diverse expertise across disciplines and industries at all stages.

  -Work across sector silos to create coordinated and more holistic approaches.

  -Document work, results, processes and best practices and share them widely.

  -Publish materials under a Creative Commons license by default, with strong rationale if another licensing approach is taken.


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