UNICEF plans to sell 1,000 data-driven non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the UN’s largest-ever NFT collection to date, the UN children’s agency said today ahead of commemorations of UNICEF’s 75th anniversary.
A portion of the NFTs will be digitally watermarked to commemorate the agency’s 75th year, while others will be connected to events in early 2022. These digital collectibles will be sold directly by UNICEF, using the Ethereum blockchain.
“For 75 years, UNICEF has been a driving force for change in children’s lives. And as we look back at our history, we must also look forward and seize every opportunity to take innovative actions to secure the future for our children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “We have to use every tool in the toolbox if we are to reach more children and invest in a better world – including through new ways of fundraising and financing – and the launch of UNICEF’s first global collection of data driven digital tokens will directly support our global efforts to close the digital divide and help give every young person access to the Internet.”
Proceeds from this auction and other NFT fundraising scheduled for late 2021 and early 2022 will go towards promising initiatives of the UNICEF Global Office of Innovation, including Giga, a UNICEF and ITU initiative to connect every school in the world to the Internet using new technologies like low-earth orbit satellites, machine learning, and blockchain. To date, Giga has connected over 3,000 schools benefitting over 700,000 children, and mapped over 1 million more to help target investment in connectivity.
In honour of its 75th anniversary, for this NFT collection, UNICEF partnered with Snowcrash Labs and data visualization scientist and artist Nadieh Bremer, who created a visually striking collection of NFTs called Patchwork Kingdoms. Each piece has a world ‘above’ representing connected schools, and a world ‘below’ for unconnected schools. The squares in the hidden pale ‘reflection’ city represent a lack of connectivity contrasted with the ‘vibrant’ connectivity in schools in the upright city. The various colours show how many children are still in need of Internet access. The artwork is inspired by Giga’s live maps on school connectivity.
The collection of NFTs incorporates data on more than 280,000 schools from 21 countries, and each artwork represents a subset of these schools.
“My most fundamental source of inspiration was the sense of wonder we experience during our childhood,” said Bremer. “The live maps from Giga guided my artwork, using its data to create 1,000 tiny fantasy art pieces while subtly trying to convey the importance of the project; there are still many schools not connected to the Internet, and many children excluded.”
Each Patchwork Kingdom is a modern time capsule, meaningfully capturing where children are currently connected and where children are still in need of life-changing access to the Internet and all that connectivity offers for their wellbeing and opportunity. Through a variety of initiatives of the UNICEF Office of Innovation, alongside many public and private partners, UNICEF seeks to capitalize on the potential of the digital revolution for every child to thrive, including a variety of high-profile priorities such as mental health and climate change. As these specific NFTs are bought, collectors will own a snapshot of Giga’s progress at this point in time. Further developments to the NFTs will include the ability to collect individual schools, connect Patchwork Kingdoms, and observe the network of cityscapes grow as Giga evolves and more schools and communities are connected.
“There are more than 1.3 billion children disconnected in an increasingly connected world. We cannot allow these children to grow up on an information island, cut off from the wealth of information and opportunities available online, and with fewer resources to learn and grow,” said Fore. “The Office of Innovation is working to close the digital divide through innovations and technology across the world.”
In addition to being the UN’s largest known NFT collection, it is believed this marks the first time the UN has created NFTs based on data. The collection is supported by the Ethereum Foundation, Snowcrash Labs, CfC St. Moritz, Metagood and Wondros.
For 75 years, UNICEF has been working for child rights and the wellbeing of every child. From short-term relief to long-term development programmes, UNICEF works around the world to save children’s lives, protect their rights, and secure their futures.