Defining a new era of change for children

The Challenge

How might we energise and inspire people around a new vision for SBC?

The Context

Years of trailblazing work in Communication for Development (C4D) had positioned UNICEF as a leader in social and behaviour change. But as the challenges facing children and young people have evolved, so must the strategies that motivate people to effectively address them. To revitalise its longstanding and historic C4D function, UNICEF embarked on an agency-wide change process to fortify its vision for SBC with the latest evidence, tools and tactics. 

And when the pandemic sent every country into a frenzy to promote life-saving behaviours, global leaders were looking to UNICEF for a North Star.







About 74% of child-related SDG indicators are not on track to meet global targets by 2030, or don’t have enough data to track progress.¹

“Changing our behaviour as citizens may not be enough to contribute to a more sustainable future, but no constructive change is possible without individual and collective action. We can indeed make a real difference towards the future we want.”

-Bronywn Hayward, Changing behaviour to achieve progress


UNICEF has a unique advantage to lead global change

with approximately 50% of the potential social and behaviour change workforce, amongst 13 leading global organizations.2, 3

In March 2021, UNICEF asked us to find a way to galvanise its global network of staff, partners, policy makers, implementers, and funders around its new vision—

a vision that not everybody was on board with. To ensure this shift would be embraced by UNICEF staff, partners and the wider SBC community, we needed to do things differently. We needed buy-in from sceptics, supporters, and end-users both obvious and unknown.

What We Heard

We set out on an eight month, co-creative process to let SBC experts from within and outside of UNICEF shape the content and creation of the new programme guidance. We had the honour of speaking with Dan Ariely, Chris Graves, Virigina Lacayo, Geeta Rao Gupta and other thought leaders across behavioural science, social and organisational change, and gender studies who gave us valuable insight on establishing inclusive systems for change.

Internal and external experts told us about: 

  • Their expectations from UNICEF as a leader in this space
  • Which tools they found vital to delivering SBC
  • Their tried and tested methods for navigating and leading organisational change
  • The importance of collaboration with partners and colleagues
  • The sectoral developments to be cognisant of when developing the content

Members of UNICEF’s core global team told us that they needed:

  • More sophisticated tools for operationalising SBC
  • Tools to promote, manage and advocate for SBC within UNICEF programmes, that could be edited and adapted to various contexts
  • Something that would evolve and adapt with their collective experiences

Our Interviewees

External Advisory Group

National Autonomous University of Mexico
Aimée Vega Montiel, Feminist Researcher

Tbilisi State Medical University and Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia
Akaki Zoidze, Expert in Health Policy and Systems

Grid Impact
Alex Fiorillo, Principal

Final Mile
Anushka Ashok, Behaviour Architect

Benjamin Kumpf, Head of Innovation, Development

Busara Center for Behavioral Economics
Chaning Jang, CEO, Busara Center for Behavioral Economics

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Danielle Pedi, Senior Programme Officer

World Health Organization
Elena Altieri, Behavioural Insights Unit Lead

ThinkPlace Senegal
Isabel Sandoval, Studio Director

The Carter Center
Moses Katabarwa, Senior Programme Anthropologist and Epidemiologist

University of the Witwatersrand
Nicola Christofides, Senior Lecturer, SBC

Nikki Tyler, Lead Advisor

Richard Wright, Behavioural Science Director

Ogilvy Growth and Innovation
Sam Tatam, Head of Behavioural Science Practice

Zeina Afif, Senior Social Scientist, World Bank

Massive Systemic Change
Virgina Lacayo, Social Change and Systems Thinking

Preliminary Advisors

Amy Rowland, Associate Director for Communication Science

Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance
Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO

Ogilvy Center for Behavioral Science
Chris Graves, President and Founder

Ogilvy Center for Behavioral Science
Chris Graves, President and Founder

Duke University
Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics

Policy Innovation Centre
Faisal Neru, Executive Director

United Nations Foundation
Geeta Rao Gupta, Executive Director

Henriette Ahrens, UNICEF Programme Division

Juliet Bedford, Director

Karina Lorenzana, Behavioural Scientist

Kevin Green, Vice President, Center for Behavior & the Environment

WHO Health Emergencies Programme
Michael Ryan, Executive Director
Rudi Coninx, Senior Policy Adviser

Médecins Sans Frontières
Michel-Olivier Lacharité, Head of Emergency Desk

UNICEF Paraguay
Rafael Obregon, Country Representative

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Tracy Johnson , Senior Program Officer

Communication Initiative
Warren Feek, Executive Director

Our Solution

We built a homebase for everything SBC and hosted it on a digital platform for UNICEF users to fall in love with. With approachable language and downloadable PDFs, it’s designed for experts and non-experts both within and outside UNICEF, so that anyone in the ecosystem of change can be brought on board.

By engaging over 80 UNICEF colleagues, global experts, and partners, we produced a rigorously vetted resource and a network of ambassadors for SBC—people all over the world who are proud to have helped deliver something that will help provide humanitarian and developmental aid to children everywhere.

With the vision now in place, we’re helping empower staff to implement it. The next phase of this work, the Operational Guidance, will be nested within the tool so that UNICEF staff can put their evolved methodology into immediate action.

See the tool ›

We can do great things together.