Ahlström Collective Impact celebrates World Children's Day together with UNICEF Finland

© UNICEF/UN0561629/Urdaneta

United Nations’ World Children’s Day is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote children’s rights and welfare. For the fourth consecutive year, Ahlström Collective Impact joins forces with UNICEF Finland to raise awareness about the wellbeing of the new generations as part of the World Children’s Day celebrations. 

Initially established in 1954 as Universal Children's Day, World Children's Day was introduced by the UN General Assembly to promote global unity and consciousness among children while advancing their well-being. Childhood is a pivotal phase in life, establishing the foundation for lifelong success by nurturing cognitive abilities, emotional wellness, social competence, and robust physical and mental health. Alongside essential requirements such as nutrition, health, and shelter, access to education is essential as it empowers individuals with knowledge, skills, and opportunities, enabling personal growth, economic progress, and societal advancement. That is why we have chosen to focus this year's campaign on Article 28, Access to Education.

During the week of November 20th, the members of Ahlström Collective Impact spread the message about World Children’s Day among their employees and external stakeholders.  

Read more about World Children’s Day: https://www.un.org/en/observances/world-childrens-day

Read more about Ahlström Collective Impacts investment into UNICEF’s Global Education Program: https://ahlstromcollectiveimpact.com/2023/06/ahlstrom-collective-impact-continues-to-support-unicefs-education-work


Child Rights – over 30 years of improving children’s lives 

©UNICEF/UN0535325/Djemidzic - Picture: Asal is six years old. She left Afghanistan with her parents when she was only a toddler. They travelled through Turkey, Greece, Albania, and Montenegro and are now in Bosnia Herzegovina.  "I am happy to go to school today. I like drawing the most. When I grow up, I want to be a doctor and a model,” says Asal, whose entire attention is now focused on the contents of her new school bag. 

 

In 1989, world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – an international agreement on childhood.  It has become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform children’s lives around the world. 

UNICEF is the only organization mentioned as the expert of child rights 

UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. It is the only organization specifically named in the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a source of expert assistance and advice. 

UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to save children's lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.  

UNICEF influences laws and policies to create lasting change for children and implements long-term development programs that support the own structures of low- and middle-income countries. UNICEF is also the world's leading organization working for children in crisis situations; wars, conflicts and natural disasters.  

By supporting UNICEF, Ahlström Collective Impact is making an impact in strengthening children's rights. 

Childhood defined 

Contained in the Rights of the Child treaty is a profound idea: that children are not just objects who belong to their parents and for whom decisions are made, or adults in training. Rather, they are human beings and individuals with their own rights.  

The Convention says childhood is separate from adulthood and lasts until the age of 18; it is a special, protected time, in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity.  

Most widely ratified human rights treaty 

The Convention is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. It has inspired governments to change laws and policies and make investments so that more children finally get the education, health care and nutrition they need to survive and develop, and there are stronger safeguards in place to protect children from violence and exploitation.  

It has also enabled more children to have their voices heard and participate in their societies.  

Many childhoods still cut short 

But still not every child gets to enjoy a full childhood. Still, too many childhoods are cut short.  

Millions of children continue to suffer violations of their rights when they are denied adequate health care, nutrition, education and protection from violence. Childhoods continue to be cut short when children are forced to leave school, do hazardous work, get married, fight wars or get locked up in adult prisons. 

And global changes, like the rise of digital technology, environmental change, prolonged conflict and mass migration are completely changing childhood. Today’s children face new threats, but also new opportunities to realize their rights. 

Hope for the children of today and tomorrow 

The hope, vision, and commitment of world leaders in 1989 led to the Convention of the Rights of the Child. It is up to us all to demand that world leaders from government, business and communities commit to action in making sure every child has every right. By learning about the rights of the child and sharing what you have learned, you can help improve knowledge and understanding and also strengthen their realization.  

Further reading: https://www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention/convention-text 

 


Ahlström Collective Impact Continues to Support UNICEF’s Education Work

Education plays a key role in reducing inequality and poverty and in strengthening societal stability. For the fourth consecutive year, Ahlström Collective Impact continues to support UNICEF's global education work.

Ahlström Collective Impact, a unique cooperation model bringing together the companies and foundations in the Ahlström network, continues to support UNICEF’s education work. The investment of close to 800,000 euros will be directed to UNICEF’s global education program. This program provides support for millions of children who need to continue to learn, grow and develop the skills necessary to thrive in life. By bringing together the companies and foundations in the Ahlström network, the initiative can amplify the impact of individual organizations.

“Supporting education plays a vital role in building a more sustainable world. As the world’s leading organization working for children, UNICEF has a real opportunity to create long-term changes in children’s future. We see our donation to UNICEF as an investment, which results in more stable societies”, comments Maria Ahlström-Bondestam, Chair of Ahlström Collective Impact.

Learning in crisis
Currently, almost 90% of the children worldwide are attending school. At the same time, learning is in crisis. More than 600 million children and young people across the world are failing to reach the minimum levels of reading and mathematics, even though two-thirds of them are in school.

“Education is every child's right. It reduces inequality and poverty and creates more stable societies in which businesses can thrive. At the same time, we are contributing to a future where every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential," says Marja-Riitta Ketola, Executive Director of UNICEF Finland.

Training on the importance of children's rights
As an area of corporate social responsibility, human rights and children's rights are tightly connected to companies’ business activities. As part of the cooperation, UNICEF Finland trains the employees of Ahlström Collective Impact companies and foundations on children's rights. In addition to general training on child rights and business, UNICEF Finland provides in-depth training on topics such as child rights in supply chains and creating family-friendly workplaces.

Launched in 2020, the Ahlström Collective Impact cooperation model brings together companies and foundations in the Ahlström network to invest in the well-being of children in selected UNICEF projects in accordance with the UN's principles of sustainable development. Ahlström Collective Impact includes Ahlstrom, A. Ahlström, Ahlström Invest, Avain Yhtiöt, Destia, Detection Technology, Eva Ahlström Foundation, Glaston, M&J Recycling, Suominen and Walter Ahlström Foundation. Ahlström Collective Impact was initiated by the Eva Ahlström Foundation in 2020, with the purpose of inspiring a new type of collaboration within the Ahlström network.


ACI Ambassadors visiting UNICEF Supply Division in Copenhagen

ACI ambassadors Carla Kruse from A. Ahlström and Søren Guldbæk Arentsen from M&J Recycling visited UNICEF Supply Division in Copenhagen in May. UNICEF Supply Division is housed in the largest humanitarian warehouse in the world. These headquarters are much more than a warehouse: they are the heart of the UNICEF global supply operation, forming the pivot of all related activities.

“ I was impressed with this vast, robotized and extremely efficient logistics machine, that we saw and how all of this has been put in place with a higher purpose – to help the world’s children. I was especially impressed with the procurement function at UNICEF and how it has shaped the market of suppliers – for the good of children”, says Søren Guldbæk Arentsen, Global Marketing Manager for M&J Recycling.

UNICEF delivers life-saving supplies for children worldwide, procuring and delivering over 5,000 products to support essential programming in sectors such as health, education, and child protection. These supplies are also an integral part of UNICEF’s emergency response.

“The need for and amount of attention regarding everything was impressive. How to e.g. store the products taking into consideration shipping time, expiration dates, temperature – pretty much every small detail. Also, how to stack products into convenient kits for schools, for health purposes and so on”, says Carla Kruse, Family Functions, specialist, from A. Ahlström.

Working for affordable and sustainable markets

Access to affordable and fit-for-purpose products from sustainable markets is essential for the survival and development of children.

For example, worldwide, preventable birth complications, acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea are some of the leading causes of death for children under five years old. This is mostly because products and services such as vaccines, medicines, clean water, and appropriate sanitation are out of reach for these children.

Innovation to meet the needs of UNICEF’s strategic programme areas

Product innovation at UNICEF is about turning ideas into tangible and scalable solutions. It involves the identification, development and scaling of fit-for-purpose and value-for-money products that respond to the unmet needs of children.

UNICEF is managing a portfolio of product innovation projects that respond to the needs outlined in UNICEF’s strategic programme areas, including child survival, child protection, education, and emergencies.

Some projects include the High Performance Tents, Disability-friendly Latrines and Non-pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment.

https://www.unicef.org/supply/what-we-do


How working for the collective good helped bring a family closer together

The Ahlström family in Finland recognizes that commercial success depends not only on generating profit but also on making a positive global impact on the lives of others, write Malgorzata Smulowitz and Peter Vogel.  Ahlström Collective Impact is a vehicle that makes it possible for everyone in the Ahlström network to contribute towards solving some of the most pressing challenges facing our global society. The uniqueness lies in the power that comes from bringing all entities together under one umbrella and letting purpose and values be the guiding principles that unite the Ahlström network - Maria Ahlström-Bondestam.

Read more about Ahlström Collective Impact in the article below, published in I by IMD in 2023.

https://www.imd.org/ibyimd/magazine/how-working-for-the-collective-good-helped-bring-a-family-closer-together/

 


World Children's Day

Ahlström Collective Impact celebrates World Children's Day together with UNICEF Finland 

© UNICEF/UN0561629/Urdaneta

United Nations' World Children's Day is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote children's rights and welfare. For the third consecutive year Ahlström Collective Impact joins forces with UNICEF Finland to raise awareness about the wellbeing of the new generations as part of the World Children's Day celebrations.

The World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as the Universal Children's Day The UN General Assembly started World Children's Day in 1954 to promote international togetherness and awareness among children worldwide and improve children's welfare. Childhood is one of the most critical periods in life. This is when the development of cognitive skills, emotional wellbeing, social competence, and sound physical and mental health builds a strong foundation for success well into adulthood. Along with the basic needs of nutrition, health, shelter, and quality education, play is essential to growing the potential for future success.  

During the week leading up to November 20, the members of Ahlström Collective Impact spread the message about World Children's Day among their employees and external stakeholders. This year the importance of quality education and the right to play are in the focus, and all employees within the network are challenged to #makeyourmove and think about children's right to education and play by reminiscing about a favorite childhood game.  

Read more about World Children's Day: https://www.unicef.org/world-childrens-day https://www.un.org/en/observances/world-childrens-day 

Read more about Ahlström Collective Impacts investment into UNICEF's Global Education Program: https://ahlstromcollectiveimpact.com/2022/09/ahlstrom-collective-impact-invests-eur-1-million-in-the-welfare-of-children-via-unicef-finland 


Ahlström Collective Impact invests EUR 1 million in the welfare of children via UNICEF Finland

Drawings made by migrant children at UNICEF´s Child Friendly Spaces., Darien, Panama. ©UNICEF/UN0561629/Urdaneta

Investment used for education of children globally and to support children in Ukraine

Ahlström Collective Impact, a unique cooperation model bringing together the companies and foundations in the Ahlström network, has invested EUR 1 million in the education of children globally and to support children in Ukraine. Ahlström Collective Impact made an investment of EUR 770,000 into UNICEF’s Global Education Program in 2022. In addition, the companies, employees, foundations, and shareholders within the Ahlström Collective Impact have raised nearly EUR 300,000 for the children in Ukraine.

Quality education, gender equality and partnerships for the goals

Ahlström Collective Impact unites 10 public and private companies, 3 foundations, shareholders and employees to act together with UNICEF Finland to support the realization of selected United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This year, the joint investments will be directed to UNICEF’s Global Education Program, supporting goal number 4. UNICEF’s Global Education Program provides support for millions of children who need to continue to learn, grow and develop the skills necessary to thrive in life. By bringing together the companies and foundations in the Ahlström network, the initiative can have a bigger impact than the partners could have alone.

“Ahlström Collective Impact is very much a continuation of the values and beliefs held by my great-great-grandparents Antti and Eva Ahlström, who 170 years ago passionately argued that an investment in an equal education for girls and boys is the basis for a stable society, a prosperous business as well as the key to a sustainable future. We are now supporting these topics on a global level through cooperation with UNICEF ”, says Maria Ahlström-Bondestam, Chair of Ahlström Collective Impact.

"Education plays a key role in reducing inequality and poverty and strengthening societal stability. Right now, nearly two-thirds of ten-year-olds are unable to read and understand a simple text. UNICEF works for the education of every child, so that children would have the skills and abilities needed to thrive in the future. This work would not be possible without strong and innovative supporters like Ahlström Collective Impact", says Marja-Riitta Ketola, Executive Director, UNICEF Finland.

The entire Ahlström network comes together

The Ahlström Collective Impact includes the entire Ahlström network of companies and foundations; Antti Ahlström Perilliset, Ahlström Capital, Ahlström Invest, Ahlstrom-Munksjö, Destia, Detection Technology, Enics, Glaston, Suominen, Avain Yhtiöt, M&J Recycling, the Eva Ahlström Foundation and Walter Ahlström Foundation. Ahlström Collective Impact was initiated by the Eva Ahlström Foundation in 2020, with the purpose of inspiring a new type of collaboration within the Ahlström network.


Ahlström Collective Impact supporting UNICEF Global Education Program - Key Results 2021

 

The pandemic brought education systems across the world to a halt, with school closures affecting more than 1.6 billion learners at its peak, including 167 million younger children who lost access to early childhood education. Learning losses are substantial, with the most marginalized children and youth disproportionately affected.In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to disrupt education for millions of children. Education plays a key role in reducing inequality, cutting poverty rates, and strengthening societal stability. It contributes to a better society and sustainable development. Without skills for lifelong learning and active citizenship, children face greater barriers to earning potential and employment later in life.

UNICEF works around the world to support quality learning for every child. UNICEF’s aim is to ensure that every child and adolescent has access to school and quality learning.

In 2021 Ahlström Collective Impact supported UNICEF’s Global Education Program and could therefore help to offer thousands of children around the world:

  • An equitable access to quality education.
  • Improved learning outcomes.
  • Skills development for knowledge and skills to face an ever-changing world.

This report summarizes some of the key results of how UNICEF together with its partners, worked for children’s education in 2021

 


Ahlström Collective Impact supports children's education

Members of the student council at Svay Kal Primary School, Kampong Thom province, Cambodia. ©UNICEF/ UN0225402/Brown

We, as part of Ahlström Collective Impact support every child’s right for quality education with Ahlström Collective Impact's support, UNICEF can: improve the quality of education, prevent student drop-out, promote equity and inclusion, offer alternative learning opportunities for those out of school, with an emphasis on girls, promote digital learning and active citizenship and employment. Read more about the importance of education here below or here

All children have the right to go to school and learn. UNICEF is committed to ensuring that every child gets access to quality education.

SUPPORTING EDUCATION

  • Education plays a key role in reducing inequality, cutting poverty rates, and strengthening societal stability
  • Education contributes to a better society and sustainable development
  • Without skills for a lifelong learning and active citizenship, children face greater barriers for earning potential and employment in later life

EVERY CHILD HAS THE RIGHT TO LEARN

UNICEF works around the world to support quality learning for every girl and boy. Our aim is to ensure that every child and adolescent has access to school and quality learning.

EDUCATION IS A POWERFUL INVESTMENT

  • For each additional year of studies, the GDP per capita could increase by 20%.
  • Each additional year of schooling could boost personal income by 10%. For girls, as much as 20%.

GOOD NEWS

Globally, education for children has taken huge steps forward during the last 50 years. As many as 90% of children around the world start school every year.

HOWEVER, THERE ARE CHALLENGES

  • Schooling does not always lead to Many students fail to learn even the basic skills at school.
  • The situation is the weakest for children living in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The challenges of learning are strongly linked to e.g. poverty, long distances between home and school, low appreciation of education, gender inequality, and child marriage
  • A worrying number of children – especially girls – drop out of The longer children stay out of school, the less likely they are to return.

AN ESTIMATED 1.6 BILLION LEARNERS HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY SCHOOL CLOSURES DUE TO THE PANDEMIC

  • In 2020, one out of 3 schoolchildren did not have access to any form of distance learning
  • These disruptions further highlighted inequalities between children. The most vulnerable were at a particular risk of falling behind. In low- and middle- income countries, learning losses due to school closures have left up to 70% of 10-year-olds unable to read or understand a simple text, up from 53% pre-pandemic.
  • Child marriages are estimated to grow by 10 million by 2030. As many as 9 million children risk facing child labour by the end of 2022

WITH YOUR SUPPORT, WE CAN

  • Improve the quality of education and learning results by training teachers and producing learning materials
  • Collaborate with families and communities to help them support children’s learning and prevent student dropout
  • Continue our ongoing advocacy work, urging governments to prioritize and invest more in children's education
  • Promote equity and inclusion, with focus on the most marginalized children, including children with special needs
  • Support science and technology learning and digital skills for girls
  • Promote digital and remote learning and connect every school in the world to the internet
  • Offer alternative learning opportunities for those out of school, with an emphasis on girls
  • Enhance the quality of early education and improve access to pre-primary education
  • Promote active citizenship, employment and internship opportunities for young people
  • Collaborate with partners to develop educational systems with innovative solutions that help boost the learning for every child

 


Through Ahlström Collective Impact we want to give everyone in the Ahlström Network a chance to contribute towards the realization of the The Sustainable Development Goals

Maria Ahlström-Bondestam, Co-founder and Chair of the Board at the Eva Ahlström Foundation presenting at the Ahlström Network Day 2022.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) might sound intangible and uncomprehending – but in order for us to reach the goal of a sustainable world by 2030, we need to figure out ways to make these global goals local and find opportunities for  everyone to contribute.  Ahlström Collective Impact is our vehicle that makes it possible for everyone in the Ahlström Network, together with UNICEF Finland, to contribute towards the realization of the SDG’s. The uniqueness of Ahlström Collective Impact  lies in the power, to bringing all entities together under one umbrella, and from letting purpose and values be the guiding principles that unites the Ahlström Network. Our common values have  united us in helping to reach the SDG goals 4. Quality Education and 5. Gender Equality. ​​ Through our partnership with UNICEF, the UN organization for child rights