Procuring supplies for children is not as simple as buying products off the shelf: it requires a complex orchestration of efforts among many partners. The business sector is one key partner that UNICEF has worked closely with over the years to conceptualize, produce and deliver supplies – creating shared value for children, together. This report highlights many examples of where engagement with the business sector has contributed to the health, safety and well-being of children and their families.
Shared value can derive from different engagement modalities, such as philanthropic and corporate social responsibility, market shaping, product innovation and strategic procurement. For UNICEF, creating shared value means maximizing impact for children and their families. For businesses, this approach also provides a portal for entering new markets, supporting local economies and fostering sustainability.
In 2018, UNICEF procured $3.486 billion worth of goods and services from over 11,000 businesses. Behind these figures are an array of strategies employed to achieve shared value for children. For example, by analysing and publicly sharing market information, UNICEF fosters competition, promotes fair pricing and influences investments. UNICEF also engages directly with businesses and governments to improve supply chains so that supplies of assured quality reach children where and when they need them.
While the report highlights many of these achievements, it also draws attention to the opportunities where further value can be created for children and young people. Together, we can do more to:
Strengthen our collaborations. Each year UNICEF convenes industry consultations in areas such as vaccines, medicines, sanitation and nutritional products. In 2018 UNICEF convened 11 forums, bringing together nearly 1000 participants from governments, suppliers and other partners. These platforms provide a critical opportunity to discuss strategic directions and alignment and better understand industry challenges and market perspectives, with the common goal of achieving results for children.
Embark on new innovations. Over the years, collective efforts have achieved much progress in safeguarding the health and well-being of children. Yet there are many areas where gaps remain. UNICEF and partners are working to identify, develop and, most importantly, scale new products targeting areas of unmet need for children. For instance, UNICEF worked with suppliers to modify the design of latrines used during emergencies so that they are accessible for children with impaired mobility.
Foster healthy markets. The development of a product is not enough – a sustainable market must also be in place for that product to reach children. UNICEF works with partners to optimize markets for existing products, and shape markets for new ones. For example, UNICEF is mobilizing stakeholders to address the Sustainable Development Goal of ending open defecation by 2030. Together, we hope to catalyse change in local markets to promote self-sustaining supply and demand chains for household toilets and sanitation services.
As the world celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, this is a critical moment for UNICEF to further leverage the strengths and capacities of business as a change agent for children. Through innovative thinking, hard work and close engagement, these collaborations will continue to drive results for every child.