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Partnering to support children’s rights and development - LEGO Group, LEGO Foundation and UNICEF

2015-03-27

NEW YORK, March 13, 2015: Children’s rights and early learning are to receive a boost through two new global partnerships between the LEGO Group, the LEGO Foundation and UNICEF, the celebration of which took place today in New York.

Under the first partnership, the LEGO Group and UNICEF pledge to jointly promote the Children’s Rights and Business Principles – a 10-point charter that sets out actions companies can take to respect and support children’s rights. In this three-year partnership, the LEGO Group has pledged to strengthen the governance of child protection in its own business and share best practices with others in the corporate world.

“Children are our major concern. Delivering creative products of high quality which help children to develop, and operating a responsible business towards children have always been at the core of our values,” said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, the President and CEO of the LEGO Group. “I am proud to announce that the LEGO Group is the first in our industry to establish a global partnership with UNICEF. This is a statement of our support to the 10 Children’s Rights and Business Principles. We see UNICEF as a key partner in our future efforts on the children’s rights agenda and we very much look forward to our collaboration with this renowned organisation.”

The LEGO Group, the LEGO Foundation and UNICEF believe that play is fundamental for children to build the physical, cognitive, creative, social and emotional skills they need for lifelong learning and development. Many children do not have the opportunity to play. According to a recent UNICEF survey, almost a third of under-fives in low- and middle-income countries have inadequate learning opportunities, with limited access to any kind of play things and parents who reported having not played with their child in the three days prior to the survey.

“Children not only have a right to play, they have a need to play. It helps them to learn and to grow in ways that can last a lifetime, literally shaping their minds,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “UNICEF is very glad to be working with the LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation to give more children a chance to play – and to inspire more companies to support the rights of children. Like each LEGO brick, each such partnership is a building block to a better future for children.”

The second partnership, between the LEGO Foundation and UNICEF, will promote quality early learning through play for children around the world. A global review of policies on early childhood development will be conducted and the understanding among decision makers of the critical link between play and child development will be increased. The LEGO Foundation has committed USD 8.2 million to the 3.5-year partnership.

In addition, by working with the South African government to change policies and programmes, the partnership with the LEGO Foundation has the potential to benefit 4.5 million children aged 9 and under who will receive support and care from parents, caregivers and educators who have been taught to understand and use play as a tool for stimulation and learning. 

“This partnership is an important step towards our goal to build a future in which learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged lifelong learners, and we are excited to begin our joint endeavour with UNICEF to shine a bright light on the importance of improving early childhood development,” said Hanne Rasmussen, CEO of the LEGO Foundation. “UNICEF is uniquely positioned to work with governments on ensuring that the youngest children receive the attention and resources needed to give them a good start in life. We know that the first years of a child’s life are absolutely critical and by investing in our children early on, we help build a strong foundation benefitting them, their communities and society a lifetime”.

The partnerships embody the conviction that all three organisations hold, that the corporate world has a responsibility to respect and support children’s rights and well-being.

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Highlights from the partnerships

A three-year partnership between the LEGO Group and UNICEF to jointly promote the Children’s Rights and Business Principles.

  • Build evidence and awareness of how businesses can act responsibly towards children.
  • Promote the relevance of the 10 Principles and, where relevant, implement new practices and/or further strengthen existing practices in the LEGO Group operations and share best practices to inspire other businesses.
  • Increase accountability to children – for example, by strengthening the LEGO Group’s governance of child protection by developing and implementing a child protection policy.
     

A 3.5-year, USD 8.2 million partnership between the LEGO Foundation and UNICEF to promote quality early learning through play for children around the world by:

  • Conducting a global review of policies on early childhood development and increasing the understanding of the critical link between play and early learning skills.
  • Strengthening the connection between early learning and play in several existing UNICEF programmes, training educators and caregivers, and developing piloting evaluation metrics.
  • Working with the South African government to ensure that play is an integral part of government policies, ECD curricula and programmes and to train ECD practitioners and caregivers as part of the first in-country effort

Children’s Rights and Business Principles

The Children’s Rights and Business principles, launched by United Nations Global Compact, UNICEF and Save the Children in 2012, state the standards that apply to businesses to ensure that they respect and support children’s rights. For further information visit: http://childrenandbusiness.org

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca. Access broadcast quality photos and b-roll here

About the LEGO Group
The LEGO Group is a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark. The company is owned by the Kirk Kristiansen family who founded it in 1932. The LEGO Group is engaged in the development of children's creativity through play and learning. Based on the world-famous LEGO® brick, the company today provides toys, experiences and teaching materials for children in more than 140 countries. The head office is in Billund, Denmark. www.LEGO.com

About the LEGO Foundation
The LEGO Foundation shares the mission of the LEGO Group: to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. The Foundation is dedicated to build a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for play. www.LEGOfoundation.com

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.