Our Year 2022
Read a summary of highlights, achievements and reflections over the past year at Fondation Botnar.
A message from our Board Chair
2022 was another busy 12 months full of learning and progress at Fondation Botnar.
We continued to bring young people, critical voices and actors from all levels together in pursuit of our goal of improving the wellbeing of young people living in cities around the world.
We had countless opportunities to harness new possibilities and try innovative methods to achieve the change we want to see in the world, from launching new partnerships to strengthen digital rights and the mental wellbeing of young people, to engaging with global leaders in urban sustainability at the 11th session of the World Urban Forum.
Building strong relationships with our partners and working together to transform urban systems for the better allowed us to be curious, learn and understand more.
It’s been a humbling journey so far.
It’s been a humbling journey so far.
To build on our progress in the last five years and take us into 2023 and beyond, we need to remain fully open to learning and relearning – to be prepared to challenge the status quo and innovate. Only then will we discover the new paths and promises that will eventually lead us to create inclusive and sustainable urban environments fit for young people to thrive.
Thank you to all our partners who have made these achievements possible!
Board Chair, Fondation Botnar
Listening to young leaders
Hear Bianca and Michel’s perspectives on the challenges young people face in urban governance.
“At the municipal level, young people face discrimination based on age, where the vision of youth is not valued as valid; many may be invited and physically included on stage, but ideas are prioritised by which private resources or investments are involved.”
“In my view, the biggest challenge is related to trust in decision-making or in policy. Young people are not seen as essential participants in these processes. Their input, while unique and game-changing, is often not valued. When young people are only included at the surface level, without any power or decision-making ability, they are not truly empowered to contribute.”
on five years
Stefan Germann, CEO
In the five years since I joined Fondation Botnar, we’ve grown from our roots –– a small temporary office in Basel –– to a thriving, global network of partners and young leaders working to achieve the wellbeing of young people in growing urban environments.
Our collective hard work and dedication have achieved so much, and I thank everyone who has been part of this journey. As we continue our efforts to make a difference in young people’s lives, I’m delighted to share some personal highlights of the last half-decade.
One of the exciting developments of the past five years has been our work in the city of Tanga in Tanzania started in 2018. Tanga is becoming a thriving digital learning hub with many young people who want to get involved and move their lives and communities forward. Part of the OurCity initiative, it’s an impressive example of what can be achieved when working actively with city stakeholders and young people.
The potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to provide new routes to tackle persistent and systemic inequalities is becoming more apparent every year. From driverless cars to the metaverse and online safety to AI chatbots like ChatGPT, the issues raised by the rapid adoption of digital technology continue to surface. As the first fully digital generation, young people are brilliant enablers of our collective future. However, we must remember that they are particularly vulnerable in this area, regularly subjected to involuntary data collection, cyberbullying, online abuse and exposure to explicit content.
Another highlight was our Future Cities Challenge in 2020, which sought to unlock the innovation and creativity of young people from all over the world, asking them to learn more about the cities they live in and encouraging them to get creative and share their vision of their future city. I remember being truly amazed by all the participants’ creativity and innovation, and I still am today!
So I was delighted to have the opportunity to host a discussion panel at AI for Good on designing possible futures for youth and artificial intelligence in June of 2022. Hearing the many positive stories and imaginative solutions from an intergenerational dialogue was an inspiration.
As technologies develop, essential questions need to be raised. One is the need to ensure that developments are based on human rights and that data is owned and equitable. I’m particularly proud that Fondation Botnar supports those actively working to improve this, including our partnership with Amnesty International through the RIGHTS Click initiative. The initiative is currently responding to the needs of a ‘digital generation’ in Kenya, Argentina, and the Philippines, with a vision to support more countries in the future.
Further, we continue to be guided by the insights from the Governing Health Futures 2030 Commission that released its report in 2021 and, together with Transform Health, advocate for the equitable digital transformation of health systems – to achieve health for all.
2023 will be a crucial year for the foundation – not only to put urgent issues of health data governance and global commitments to adolescent wellbeing on the agenda – but also one where we can make true our commitment to continually evaluate ourselves. As we reflect on our first 5-year external organisation evaluation and forge a more robust path for our organisation, let’s focus on the following intentions:
Stories of change
Explore how our work and partners are helping to improve young people’s lives in cities around the world.
Moments and milestones
Read highlights of launches and engagements
from our partners and initiatives in 2022.
Shared principles for the
future of health data governance
Transform Health launched the Health Data Governance Principles to provide a human rights approach to health data governance that protects people, promotes health value, and prioritises equity. The Principles have been endorsed by 130 organisations and informed advocacy at all levels for a global health data governance framework.
Building healthier cities for young people
Our Healthy Cities for Adolescents programme completed its first phase and commenced its second phase in collaboration with Ecorys, which will run until 2025. During its first phase, the programme laid the foundations for a global knowledge management platform, provided an important test-bed for the Foundation’s ‘Evidence to Action’ framework, and led to the creation of a new SDG accountability tool in partnership with UN-Habitat. Phase II will build on existing projects and support new initiatives.
Young people shaping a human rights-led digital future
In partnership with Amnesty International, we launched a six-year programme enabling children and young people to co-create online platforms and other digital technologies that protect their rights – and their health and wellbeing. The RIGHTS Click programme calls on governments and technology companies to support young people’s health and wellbeing online.
Using Minecraft to design public spaces
Together with UN-Habitat, we launched the Young Gamechangers Initiative (YGI) at the World Urban Forum with a live signing in Minecraft. Following the launch, it was announced that the cities of Armenia in Colombia, Jatni in India and Bargny in Senegal will initiate the programme in 2023. YGI aims to engage young people and local governments in urban planning processes and promote better public spaces to advance the health and wellbeing of young people.
Empowering the next generation of Ghanaian entrepreneurs
Fit4Future: The Ghana Science and Tech Explorer Prize (GSTEP)
GSTEP is an inspirational and inclusive education programme aimed at Junior High School students in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions of Ghana. Following a challenge prize-based approach, students work together in teams and develop digitally enabled products and services that tackle important issues within their community. The launch in June was extremely well received, with over 250 enthusiastic attendees, including young people with special educational needs.
Milestone achievements for the future of digital health and AI collaborative research
Our partner I-DAIR became recognised as one of the first organisations fully dedicated to digital health and AI for collaborative research. In July, I-DAIR signed a memorandum of understanding with WHO and presented its work at the UN Headquarters in New York a few months later, demonstrating its unique position to bridge the digital health and AI knowledge gap, and accelerate progress on the 2030 Agenda.
Investing in visionary
solutions for behavioural therapy
Our venture philanthropy approach is to invest in early stage startups whose products and services maximise positive impact on young people’s health and wellbeing. Butterfly Learnings was one of 12 investments we made as part of our market-based approach to philanthropy. We were proud to contribute seed funding to Butterfly Learnings, founded in India in 2021, to build and scale its behavioural therapy centres and digital products, and expand beyond the centre of Mumbai and later across India, delivering improved clinical outcomes and supporting more than 2,000 children and families.
Expanding OurCity to LatinAmerica
This year we added Latin American cities Manta and Barranquilla to our global OurCity initiative that leverages local strengths, community engagement and digital technologies to transform cities and ensure young people’s wellbeing. The programme will collaborate with youth, civil society, policymakers, the private sector, innovators, and other city champions.
Innovating for young
people’s mental wellbeing
Launched in October 2022, Being is an international mental health initiative that works to fund and support research and innovative youth-focused approaches that help improve the mental wellbeing of young people aged 10 to 24.
Over the next seven years, the initiative seeks to create supportive communities and bring system-level change in priority countries and selected cities, through a strategic and coordinated approach that combines networks, research innovation, policy and advocacy, and youth engagement.
S²Cities programme concludes successful pilot year
S²Cities concluded its pilot year in in Bandung, Indonesia and Envigado, Colombia. Hundreds of young people were engaged in capacity-building activities, and participated in the innovation challenges. Young people designed 30 initiatives to contribute to the safety and security of the municipalities of Bandung and Envigado, of which eight prototypes are currently being implemented.
Driving youth employment
opportunities through digital technology
Yoma (youth agency marketplace) continued to grow in 2022 with more than 160,000 young people registered and 25,000 certificates issued to their digital CVs. In collaboration with private sector partners, a new digital learning pathway was initiated that links young people to opportunities in the digital economy, while several challenges allowed youth to present innovative ideas related to the green economy.
Taking our learning with us
Review our team’s reflections and lessons learnt in 2022.
We’re incredibly proud of the journey Fondation Botnar has been on in 2022 and over the past five years. To our partners, team and supporters,
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