Our global community has been fundamentally impacted by COVID-19. Although we are yet to fully understand the impact of the pandemic on our younger generations, this much is certain: children could suffer from the consequences for years to come. More than ever, we need innovative and equitable solutions to ensure their health, well-being and rights are protected.
While the challenges we face today are daunting and unprecedented, they also present opportunities. As the world adjusts to social distancing, we are witnessing just how heavily we and our children rely on digital means for communication and learning. The same is true for the work of UNICEF and its partners around the world, where harnessing local insights and practical ideas to tackle COVID-19 is more important than ever.
The need for an open access hub
Too little of what we know works to improve the lives of children is easily available, especially practical and effective services for our partners, frontline workers and the general public to learn from.
It’s time our bank of child-focused knowledge transitioned from a closed library to an open hub.
To this end, UNICEF, in partnership with the Lancet COVID-19 Commission, has launched the Global Development Commons (GDC), an open-access digital platform to crowdsource real-time evidence and innovations to support children. The platform, designed to create a space for cross-sectorial discussion and problem-solving is also our first crowdsourced digital platform and showcases knowledge and insights from people about what works, and what doesn’t, for children.
How GDC can be used
The GDC’s main goal is the wide distribution of information in areas like telehealth, remote learning and more. For example, a programme specialist looking for guidance on ways to protect refugee children can access the GDC and find country case studies or read expert advice from scholars like Dr. Neil Boothby, a senior representative of UNICEF, UNHCR and Save the Children. Alternatively, a teacher can ask the GDC community a question: “What is the first step in re-opening schools in a rural community?” The collective intelligence crowdsourced on the GDC can better inform our work and by extension, the decisions we make for children.
Who is the GDC for?
The GDC’s content is accessible to everyone including governments, policy designers, child protection specialists, frontline workers as well as students, professors, and researchers. Anyone can sign up and find locally sourced information in a range of formats. By providing a single digital space for users across the globe to freely access resources on the Sustainable Development Goals, UNICEF and its partners can leverage the work being done around the world to better inform their own activities. The GDC also allows decision-makers and front-line workers to mobilize financing, enhance national implementation of social programmes and strengthen institutions to advance global goals for all children, and ensure no child is left behind.
In the words of World Vision International’s CEO, Andrew Morley, “there is no reason, no excuse, why we should not share our knowledge with those who can really benefit. Many need this expertise for their very survival and for their children’s future.” The GDC is built for those who want to join or contribute to a conversation and create and collaborate with a global community on projects that protect and serve children.
The GDC is a gathering point for decision makers, frontline workers and young people.
– Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF
Solving problems for children will require solutions from all of us. We hope this ‘digital commons’ will harness the new evidence, innovations, and groundbreaking ideas for the benefit of children worldwide. With the Global Development Commons, the fight for children will be global and digital, and we hope it will connect us in unprecedented ways.
The GDC is a partnership with the Lancet Covid-19 Commission, a group of interdisciplinary experts across the health sciences, business, finance, and public policy working together to address the complex issues stemming from the pandemic, chaired by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The GDC will also serve as their platform to accelerate evidence on COVID-19, locally and globally.
Uyen Kim Huynh is the Section Chief of the Innovation, Learning and Uptake Unit in the UNICEF Evaluation Office and is the GDC Project Lead.
Sanchi Ravishanker works in Innovation, Learning and Uptake Unit of the UNICEF Evaluation Office and is a core member of the GDC Team.
Marta Lasota previously interned with the Innovation, Learning and Uptake Unit of the Evaluation Office at UNICEF and is a core member of the GDC team.