In 2016, UNICEF
hosted The Adolescent Brain: A second window of opportunity, a symposium that
brought together experts in adolescent neuroscience to discuss this emerging
science and how we can apply it to support all adolescents – but especially
those already facing risks to their well-being, including poverty, deprivation,
conflict and crisis. The articles in this compendium elaborate on some of
the ideas shared at the symposium. Together, they provide a broad view of the
dynamic interactions among physical, sexual and brain development that take
place during adolescence. They highlight some of the risks to optimal
development – including toxic stress, which can interfere with the formation of
brain connections, and other vulnerabilities unique to the onset of puberty and
independence. They also point to the opportunities for developing interventions
that can build on earlier investments in child development – consolidating
gains and even offsetting the effects of deficits and traumas experienced
earlier in childhood.
Evidence and objective assessment are needed more than ever to help enhance the rights and well-being of the world’s children. Researching the changing world around us and evaluating progress are two sides of the same coin, both critical to reimagining a better future for children. In recognition of this, UNICEF celebrates and showcases innovative and influential research and evaluations from our offices around the world every year. For 2020, Innocenti and the Evaluation Office joined forces to find the most rigorous UNICEF studies with greatest influence on policies and programmes that benefit children.
2019 was a year of celebration and achievement for UNICEF Innocenti. It marked the research Centre’s 30th anniversary, which coincided with the 30th year of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the global charter of children’s rights. And it was the 600th anniversary of our home, the Istituto degli Innocenti, perhaps the world’s oldest continuously operating institution dedicated to childcare. Throughout 2019, we celebrated several events with our Italian hosts – the Government of Italy, the Regione Toscana, the City of Florence and the Istituto degli Innocenti – to which we are all immensely grateful for their unstinting support over the past three decades. This Annual Report outlines some of our achievements in our key strategic workstreams of research generation, research facilitation, and convening and communication, during 2019.