For millions of children around the world, 2014 was a difficult year marred by crises, war, and disease. According to the United Nations, approximately 230 million children globally live in areas affected by armed conflict . In December, the United Nations deemed 2014 one of the worst years on record for the world’s children, especially those in the Middle East and Africa. Despite these dire statistics, it is also important to focus on UNICEF’s successes in its efforts to support the rights of children worldwide, as well as what can be done to achieve a better outlook for 2015.
2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child . This international treaty recognizes the human rights of children as equal to adults, providing standards and benchmarks for all signatory governments to adhere to. The Convention has been credited with initiating major improvements in the lives of children, particularly regarding child survival, education, and access to clean water.
To commemorate the Convention’s anniversary, UNICEF has created a digital report and sharing platform, The State of the World’s Children 2015: Reimagining the Future , focusing particularly on successful projects and innovations coming from young people and local communities. As the first fully digital version of this annual report, it utilizes crowd-sourcing and creates a platform for an interactive online community. Readers can explore the report’s contents and also share their own child-focused development projects.
With its focus on innovation, this year’s report goes beyond the traditional formats of past years by allowing readers to have a more personal, interactive, and customized experience. Visitors to the digital report can explore projects being implemented worldwide, and also share their own on the innovation map , which provides a visual representation of project locations and themes, all being developed and implemented to help children.
The ability to share and connect with a global community that is engaged with children’s issues creates an important new dimension in UNICEF’s reporting. As in past years, data and statistics about the state of the word’s children are still easily available, but the approach this year puts a much greater focus on successful projects, and is a more inviting format for dialogue and discussion. The report’s scope encompasses not only UNICEF’s own projects, but also those of local communities and grassroots ideas.
UNICEF’s approach this year points to the importance of interconnectivity, communication, and new technology in tackling development issues. UNICEF has a vital role as a connector and disseminator of information for governments, policy makers, non-profits, and students, and the diversity of voices sharing their own projects and innovations alongside this report is extremely valuable.
Data, statistics, and indicators are important tools for measuring and understanding progress, but their utility can be limited without also providing a meaningful forum for further analysis, sharing, and commentary by readers and those who are engaged with the issues locally. UNICEF’s 2015 State of the World’s Children provides such a setting. Millions of children today are living through unprecedented hardship, but we must also take note of the stories of hope, progress, and action, which can help to guide an inclusive strategy for protecting the world’s children in 2015 and beyond.