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UNICEF Innocenti 2016 Results Report now available

results report 2016

(31 March 2016) The following is UNICEF Innocenti Director Sarah Cook’s foreword to our 2016 Results Report. Download the report to get the full story of our work last year.

2016 saw significant achievements across all areas of Innocenti’s work, delivered by our committed team of researchers, analysts, communications and operations specialists, working in collaboration with a wide range of partners – from UNICEF country offices and their local counterparts, to colleagues in headquarters, UNICEF National Committees, academic institutions around the world, and our host, Istituto degli Innocenti, together with other partners in Italy.

Following leadership changes in 2015, the Office looked to 2016 as a year for consolidation of recent progress and expansion, continued implementation of an ambitious research agenda, and delivery of significant publications, events and impacts. We can look back with satisfaction at progress made in many areas of concern for UNICEF and for children. At the same time, from our location in Italy, we saw at close hand the effects of conflict and crisis, driving a wave of refugees and migrants across the Mediterranean – creating urgent demands for evidence to which we have responded with a new programme of research on children in contexts of migration, displacement and conflict.

Evidence of the impact of our research and its uptake within and beyond the organization is visible at multiple levels – from the work of country and regional offices, to influence on government policies and global debates, incorporating children or child-related concerns into academic research and policy. Detailed examples can be found in the pages of this report. They include: national policy changes flowing from research on violence and bullying; replication and scaling-up of parenting programmes based on evidence; generating the evidence base on how children use the internet as a basis for understanding both opportunities and risks, as well as identifying key regulatory gaps in relation to children and the internet, data and privacy; and synthesizing research findings on adolescence through a series of Digests to support programming in the field. The influence of Innocenti’s long-term research project that evaluates cash transfer (and increasingly ‘cash-plus’) programmes across sub-Saharan Africa continues to grow. This collaborative initiative has provided detailed evidence to national governments and UNICEF offices to support the introduction and scaling-up of transfers, while also busting myths about the impacts of cash (for example, on fertility or dependence) and demonstrating impacts of cash in areas such as adolescent health and wellbeing, violence and safe transitions to adulthood.

A key role of the Office of Research–Innocenti is to foster the generation and use of good quality research and evidence across UNICEF. Led by the Research Facilitation Team at Innocenti, the past year has seen the establishment of a strong research governance framework for UNICEF. In February, the UNICEF Policy for Research was approved by the Executive Director. This sets out key principles, standards, accountabilities and coordination mechanisms for research across the organization, complementing existing procedures and guidelines on quality assurance and ethics. Innocenti staff have worked closely with regional and country Offices to provide technical support and undertake training programmes on research and knowledge management. For the fourth year in succession, the Best of UNICEF Research drew attention to some of the outstanding research produced or in collaboration with UNICEF staff around the world.

Supporting these efforts towards broader engagement and impact, 2016 also saw major steps forward in Innocenti’s communications with the redesign of our website, a more regular e-newsletter, blogs and more adventurous use of social media – all of which help to share research findings, stimulate debate and engage a wider audience.

Also in support of partnerships and impact, the Office is capitalizing on its location and convening capacity to create a vibrant space for debate on critical issues for children. Meetings hosted included a session with Council of Europe Parliamentarians, a consultation of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Children, WHO’s Child Friendly Hospitals initiative and an expert group meeting on social protection and violence in childhood. Events with UNICEF colleagues included the annual DREAM meeting of Data, Research, Evaluation and Monitoring staff, the Social Inclusion team network meeting, and a training course on public finance for children.

Building on these achievements, we enter 2017 in a strong position for achieving ambitious goals. We look forward to working with colleagues across UNICEF in developing a research agenda aligned with the new strategic plan, and to further strengthening our capacities and those of UNICEF in a broader sense, in generating and using knowledge to achieve positive change for children. 

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Results Report for 2015 Now Available
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Each year UNICEF Innocenti produces its Results Report in order to highlight major research activities, important knowledge exchange events and other key results for children. Our Results Report for 2015 is now available and gives an overview of what has been accomplished over the course of 2015. Our small team and partners published over 100 research articles, reports and think pieces. Our linkages with the network of UNICEF regional and country offices allowed for particularly rich programming insights, diverse channels of communication, advocacy and policy engagement, as well as world-wide relationships with a wide array of international academic partners. The report highlights many of these relationships as well as how our work can generate knowledge and change through ‘research uptake’. In 2015 we marked 25 years of research for children and simultaneously welcomed new Director, Dr Sarah Cook to our privileged home in Filippo Brunelleschi’s Ospedale degli Innocenti.  The celebration provided an opportunity to reflect on past achievements and explore ways to continue the Office’s leadership role in producing high quality, cutting-edge and policy relevant research for children. Results Report 2015 features important new Innocenti evidence from the Transfer Project challenging conventional wisdom on the relationship between cash transfers and fertility. It also brings to the fore important new findings on adolescent wellbeing, on the association between corporal punishment in school and diminished achievement, and children’s rapidly increasing use of the internet.  Highlights of content:Significant strides were taken in improving governance of UNICEF’s research efforts undertaken. In-depth snap-shots of research projects on adolescent well-being, children’s use of the internet and contributions to the 2030 agenda are provided.Increased use of digital communication and social media channels for dissemination of research results.Description of important global research partnerships provided.Snapshot of office administration, resources and allocations.Comprehensive list of publications, articles and research briefs.Looking forward, Results Report forecasts important activities in 2016, including new areas of research in migration and education. It also announces re-establishment of a global Innocenti advisory group and a new research agenda. Importantly, 2016 should see heightened recognition of the role that research can play in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.(18 April 2016)
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Experts in research, data and monitoring descended on Florence this month to discuss their increasingly important role in addressing the latest challenges facing children’s rights.More than 80 UNICEF staff from over 40 countries attended the annual DREAM (Data, Research, Evaluation and Monitoring) meeting June 6-10 on how to generate better and more useful evidence for children’s rights and how to ensure that evidence is taken up and has an impact at the level of policy. “UNICEF is taking its evidence role very seriously, refocusing and emphasising how to provide quality evidence for and about children so that it can be used by governments and other important stakeholders,” said Nikola Balvin, a knowledge management specialist at UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti. “We do that mainly in low and middle income countries but we recognise that as part of the universal agenda of the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) era, we also need to advocate for the rights of children in high income countries.”A key theme in the meeting was how evidence based research could help inform government policy. UNICEF Innocenti’s chief knowledge management specialist, Kerry Albright argued the case for better evidence informed policymaking decisions. “We need to be realistic that no matter how good the quality of evidence, it is just one of a myriad of factors that are likely to impact upon decision-making.  “That is not to say that we should not try.  We still need to start with good quality evidence; the dangers of communicating bad science are far worse, but to understand the likely limitations of the use of evidence in decision-making when combined with multiple other factors including political realities, expertise, values etc.”She added: “Why is evidence-informed policymaking so important?  Because whilst not perfect, the alternative is far worse: policymaking based on personal opinion and beliefs.  This is absolutely not to say that experience and judgement do not count, but that each of us is susceptible to our own personal biases and beliefs and we need to get away from ‘the cult of the expert’.  It is only by looking at an entire body of evidence, drawing upon formal documented evidence, evidence from citizens and evidence from practice and policy implementation that we can get a more holistic picture.”Other themes at the meeting tackled new tools and methods for measuring child poverty and the role of data in monitoring the SDG’s.An awards ceremony was also held during the meeting at which the best of UNICEF research generated during 2016 was recognised. The three top distinction awards went to a project in Indonesia which helped raise awareness around menstrual hygiene management, a research project centred on child marriage in Zambia and children’s perceptions of hospital paediatric care in West Africa.   Now in its fourth year, the annual DREAM meeting brings together top specialists from all regions of the globe working for UNICEF in data and analytics, research and monitoring and evaluation. (14 June 2016)
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(16 January 2017) A new series of podcasts by UNICEF Innocenti features in depth conversations with leading researchers and experts on evidence, policy and child rights.  The Innocenti Podcast series offers listeners a look into the story behind the research being conducted at UNICEF. The series provides unique insights on the methodologies and processes behind research being conducted on many of the most urgent issues facing the world’s children.An interview with Mary Catherine Maternowska, child protection specialist at UNICEF Innocenti, explores the scope of physical, psychological and sexual violence affecting children in Peru. The findings form part of a multi country study on the drivers of violence affecting children. Maternowska’s blog on the drivers of violence against children can also be read here.Child protection research and evaluation specialist at UNICEF Innocenti, Heidi Loening-Voysey shares research findings on parenting of adolescents in eastern and southern African countries in another podcast. The interview follows the publication of her paper on how adolescents are raised, what structural factors affect parenting and where families turn to for support in the region. Tia Palermo, social policy specialist at UNICEF Innocenti, analyses the effect of unconditional cash transfers on households in sub Saharan Africa and the activities of The Transfer Project as part of another podcast. Professor Patrick O’Leary, a former senior fellow at Innocenti and professor at Griffith University in Australia shares fascinating insights on child protection in Islamic countries. The latest podcast in the series features interviews with Dr. Deepta Chopra of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and Dr. Elsbeth Robson of the University of Hull on the importance of research on children and care work and its implications on child well-being.Check our website, subscribe to the UNICEF Innocenti newsletter and follow us on Twitter to learn about future podcasts with leading researchers on children.  

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