Chapter 6

Inclusive for all Ages


© Photo: Solidarité Suisse-Guinée

Donated information technology (IT) equipment from UN Geneva continues to empower schools and learning centres in several African countries, as it has for years. Computers and accessories from UN Geneva are donated to non-governmental organizations, permanent missions and permanent observer offices through the IT Equipment Donation Programme.

These organizations, such as Solidarité Suisse-Guinée, a non-governmental organization in Labé, Guinea, frequently send the equipment to schools and learning centres that enable young people to develop technical skills that could help them achieve their professional goals.

The IT Equipment Donation Programme is also environmentally beneficial, as it has allowed a quarter of UN Geneva’s electronic equipment to be put back to good use when it is no longer needed by the Organization. The equipment, usually around five years old, is still in perfect working condition. In 2019, the programme enabled the donation of 600 computers, 600 screens, 200 laptops and 100 printers to approximately 30 organizations.

Find out more about the IT Equipment Donation Programme.

Beate Andrees

International Labour Organization expert on forced labour

“One hundred and fifty-two million girls and boys are still in child labour today. More than half of them, are, unfortunately, in the worst forms of child labour that are hazardous, dangerous… or even in conditions of slavery and trafficking.”

Play video


© UN Photo-Francois Vioud


There are many uplifting stories from around the world about lives that have been saved, conflicts that have been prevented, and rights that have been protected. These stories should be heard and shared as widely as possible, but are often overlooked by the traditional media. The Iceberg Series, created by UN Geneva, comprises nine books that tell moving tales of people working to find solutions to their struggles, the same struggles faced by people around the world every day.

View the eBooks from the Iceberg Series plus other publications from the Perception Change Project.

Watch the animated cartoon of Malik, one of the books in the series.

Plastic pollution   

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to both life on land and life under water. Individual and collective action is essential to restore and protect natural habitats. To raise awareness and educate youth and adults alike to behave in way that respects the environment, UN Geneva created a children’s underwater adventure book. Phantom, A Tale on Plastic Pollution is a story about a whale taking a stand to fight against plastic pollution.

View the eBook and learn how to protect natural habitats from plastic pollution.

Young Reporters and KidsWannaKnow

Young people are not just the future, they are also the present. UN Geneva is working to equip them with the knowledge and tools they need now to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Since 2015, high school students have been invited to the Palais des Nations to take part in the Young Reporters at UN Geneva programme. They engage with experts from different organizations to discuss work and current events. The young reporters have the opportunity to ask relevant questions to broaden their understanding of global issues and learn about what is being done to address them.

Through the KidsWannaKnow programme, younger students come to the Palais des Nations to interview experts from International Geneva on international cooperation topics. In 2019, around 200 students attended discussions on topics including nuclear disarmament, gender equality and plastic pollution. The speakers were from United Nations agencies, other international organizations, non-governmental organizations and academia.

Watch videos from the KidsWannaKnow sessions and learn more about important global issues and what is being done to address them.



© James Geen Photography


PechaKucha is a unique style of presentation from Japan, where speakers address an audience and show 20 images, with just 20 seconds for each image. UN Geneva, in collaboration with the International Geneva Welcome Centre, has been supporting PechaKucha events to create a space for informal networking and for hearing short presentations by experts from across international and local Geneva.

Six PechaKucha nights were held in 2019, in several locations, including the Palais des Nations. More than 200 people listened to and took part in the dynamic presentations.

Subscribe to the newsletter.

Impact Stories 

To share enlightening stories about the positive impact that International Geneva is making on people’s lives around the world, UN Geneva publishes the monthly Impact Stories of International Geneva newsletter. The electronic newsletter features stories that are not always found in the traditional media but are undeniable reminders of the value of the UN and international organizations in Geneva.

Since its launch in 2018, the newsletter has reached more than 600 subscribers: 40% in Switzerland and 60% in locations around the world.

3D map 

Since the founding of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863, Geneva has become home to many international organizations, which are committed to working together to ensure global peace, rights and well-being for all.

To make it easier for people to get to know the roles and expertise of each Geneva-based organization, UN Geneva has developed an online, interactive 3D map. The map, of International Geneva, lists the top five goals of each organization. This gives the user a unique experience – to learn about the wide variety of projects taking place in such a close proximity, unlike almost anywhere else beyond International Geneva.

Explore the 3D map of International Geneva.

© James Geen Photography

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and libraries in France 

Fifteen hundred libraries across France acted together to raise awareness of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Inspired by 170 actions to transform our world, a booklet created at UN Geneva, the libraries developed a list of daily actions for librarians supporting the 2030 Agenda. Their list was published online, alongside other resources that the public can use for advocacy campaigns and a forum for the public to add stories about their own personal actions to achieve the Goals.

Find out what you can do to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainability Week Switzerland 

The student-led Sustainability Week Switzerland mobilized more than 400 students who, through 27 week-long events in 14 Swiss cities, raised awareness about sustainability. With a focus on youth and higher-education institutions, UN Geneva collaborated with partners to provide posters on the Sustainable Development Goals and other engaging outreach materials. 

Perception Change Project meet-ups 

Speakers from the Perception Change Project partners shared their professional experiences, and real-world examples and outcomes of their work, at monthly meet-up sessions held at UN Geneva in 2019. Focusing on specific themes, partners such as Ipsos discussed their work on perceptions and misperceptions. University of Geneva researchers came to talk about behavioural change for more sustainable actions. European Broadcasting Union colleagues shared tools and resources to fight fake news. One session, co-organized with Action pour la Genève internationale et son rayonnement (AGIR), demonstrated a successful partnership between the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Procter & Gamble. 


Fellowship participants with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres © UN Photo

To train and empower young officials from Member States to participate more effectively in international disarmament processes, the General Assembly launched the United Nations Programme of Fellowships on Disarmament in 1978.

After more than 40 years, the Geneva branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs continues to organize this unique and important programme every year. Some 1,033 fellows from 170 States have participated in the programme since its inception. As members of the diplomatic service of their respective countries, international organizations, civil society and the academic community, many former fellows have gone on to make significant and positive contributions to global disarmament, peace and security efforts.    

In 2019, 25 fellows from 25 countries began their training at UN Geneva before travelling to visit international institutions and national bodies dealing with security, disarmament and non-proliferation in 11 different countries.

See participants sharing their experiences from the programme.


© UN Photo-Andrew Martin

Inclusivity for people of all ages is a key value upheld and promoted at UN Geneva, and empowering youth to participate in multilateral processes is a priority.

In 2019, many secondary-school students were welcomed to the Palais des Nations to participate in events, and to learn about the Organization on tours. One small group of students came to the Palais des Nations as interns to carry out research and interviews and produce a short film on some of the sustainable and environmentally friendly design and construction features of the new permanent H Building.

Watch the video about sustainable design and construction features in the new H Building.

The 100Elles* project on gender and equality highlights the role of 100 women, people with marginalized orientations or gender identities and intersex people, who have made positive contributions to Geneva.
The project is organized by l’Escouade, a Geneva-based feminist organization, in partnership with the City of Geneva.


1915-2009, first female Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations

Margaret Bruce (left) with Helvi Sipilä (right)

© UN Archives Geneva

Helvi Sipilä: First Female Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations

Helvi Sipilä (1915-2009) served as the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1972 to 1980. She was the first woman to hold such a prestigious position, at a time when 97 percent of UN leaders were men. 

Sipilä grew up and studied law in Helsinki, Finland. After graduating, she practised law and went on to serve as a judge, including working for the Supreme Court of Finland. In 1954, she was elected to preside over the International Federation of Women Lawyers. Over the next decade, she joined the international civil service and represented Finland in various UN agencies. 

In 1972, Sipilä was selected to be Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, the first woman ever to fill that position. She headed the Centre of Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs, served as Secretary-General of the International Conference for the Advancement of Women’s Rights, and in 1975, played a decisive role in the establishment of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Following her time with the UN, Sipilä remained active internationally, especially with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. In 1982, she became the first woman to run for president of Finland.


© UN Photo -Josie Bauman

To mark its 75th anniversary in 2020, the United Nations will launch the biggest-ever global conversation on the role of international cooperation in building the future we want.

At UN Geneva, interns work in a variety of roles, gaining valuable experience and knowledge which may lead to lifetime careers as international civil servants and ultimately strengthen the multilateral system.   

Director-General Tatiana Valovaya and several interns shared their views on how UN agencies can continue to be a force for positive change in the world.

UN Geneva had 75 interns in 2019, 22 male and 53 female, of 30 nationalities.

“We have to remember that our world is indivisible, and the aim of the Sustainable Development Goals is to leave nobody behind,” said the Director-General, who emphasized the need for increased global trust, solidarity, and partnerships.

“It’s a huge responsibility and commitment,” says Shaheen Rafilal, 23. “I wanted to do work that would affect people’s lives for the better, and use technology to make a better world.”


© UN Photo-Peter Kolarov

Including and engaging with youth on key issues on the multilateral agenda has been a long-standing priority for UN Geneva and the Geneva branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. Inclusion is necessary to work towards solutions for the issues of today, and prepares us for the issues of the future. In 2019, UN Geneva published the Disarmament and You(th) guide to help young people learn about and meaningfully engage on disarmament, and issues relating to non-proliferation. The Geneva branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs is proactively working to raise awareness of disarmament, and to strengthen partnerships and engage with young diplomats and young scientists on
this issue.

In 2019, the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution on youth, disarmament and non-proliferation, co-sponsored by 84 countries, to further efforts to ensure the inclusion and engagement of youth in pursuit of global disarmament.

Cristóbal Gabarrón

Painter and sculptor, advocate for human rights

“For me, the declaration of human rights is the most powerful document in defence of humanity… If we want to change the world, we have to start with young children. Human rights must be explained to children.”