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UNICEF announces partnership with the H&M Conscious Foundation to help give the most vulnerable and excluded children the best start in life

2014-02-11

TORONTO, 11 February 2014 – UNICEF announced today a three-year partnership with the H&M Conscious Foundation that will support a global campaign on early childhood development. The partnership aims to give children the best possible start in life.

The H&M Conscious Foundation is contributing SEK60 million (US$9.3 million) to support the development of a global report on Early Childhood Development which will be released by the end of 2016, and of an innovative App that will allow policy makers to access critical real time data on early childhood development. The contribution from the Foundation will also support pilot projects, in selected countries, to scale up early childhood development and encourage governments invest in children’s early years.

“The new partnership with the H&M Conscious Foundation is an important example of an alliance that will help mobilize support and harness innovation to unleash the potential of children, everywhere,” said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF Director of Private Fundraising and Partnerships.

Children are the foundation of sustainable development. What happens during their early years is of crucial importance for every child’s development. It is a period of great opportunity, but also one of great vulnerability for children.

“The first few years of a child’s life provide the foundation for future success and achievements, and significantly influence a child’s ability to help shape a sustainable society," said Pia Britto, UNICEF Senior Advisor on Early Childhood Development.

The contribution from the H&M Conscious Foundation comes at a critical time when the global development agenda is being re-shaped. There is an urgent need for governments to step up commitments and invest in the future of their children.

”H&M's ten year collaboration with UNICEF has given us firsthand experience of their work for children in developing countries. That is why the H&M Conscious Foundation announces today that UNICEF will drive one of our global programmes for change. They are well equipped to place early childhood development on the global agenda so that more of the most vulnerable children can attend early learning programmes, such as preschool, which is our goal,” said Karl-Johan Persson, CEO H&M and board member of the H&M Conscious Foundation.

Data indicates that more than 200 million children under the age of five are failing to attain their full potential because of poverty, poor heath, a lack of adequate nutrition, care, and limited opportunities to learn. A good foundation in the early years of a child positively impacts adulthood and gives future generations a better start in life.

While an increasing number of countries have developed and ratified national policies on early childhood care and learning, more support and collaboration is needed to translate policies into action. There is additional need to generate new evidence that reinforces the rationale for investing in early childhood.

UNICEF works with governments, civil society, communities and other stakeholders to design and implement early childhood development programmes and policies. These help the most vulnerable and excluded children reach their full potential by supporting families and communities, and by increasing access to quality early childhood care and education.

The contribution from the H&M Conscious Foundation will help strengthen a global movement to promote the inclusion of early childhood development in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

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About H&M Conscious Foundation

The H&M Conscious Foundation is an independent global non-profit foundation initiated in connection with H&M’s 60th anniversary in 2007. Its mission is to contribute to positive long-term change for people and communities. As an independent foundation, the H&M Conscious Foundation complements H&M’s sustainability work. The foundation is the philanthropic arm dedicated to driving change beyond the H&M value chain. Through its support, the foundation strives to make a positive impact both at the policy level and on the lives of people and communities.

The H&M Conscious Foundation is engaged in three focus areas: Education, Clean Water and Strengthening Women.  All three focus areas derive from the UN Millennium Development Goals and were selected by H&M employees and customers through a global online voting process in October 2013.

Read more about the H&M Conscious Foundation – hm.com/consciousfoundation

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.