Lunch Talks

Christopher Fabian

Senior Advisor on Innovation to Exec. Director, UNICEF
April 25, 2014

When we’re building things we have to build them with the people who most need them.

Christopher Fabian co-created and has co-lead UNICEF's Innovation Unit in New York since 2007. Working with UNICEF's 135 country offices, the Innovation Unit's research and development priorities focus on near-term challenges in the world's most difficult operating environments. The Unit also crafts strategic options for innovation on a three-to-five year horizon. The Unit's accomplishments have garnered global recognition, notably: Top 50 Innovations of 2011 from Time Magazine, and, in 2012, gold and silver IDSA awards, and Redhat prize for being one of the three top open source projects.

Christopher believes that technology is not the end-product of innovation, but a principal driver of new ways of thinking about development problems. The Unit's commitment to open source engagements, determination to learn from failure, and realization that local talent must be front-and-center in creating successful local solutions has positioned UNICEF as a global leader in innovation for development.

Christopher is most proud of his work identifying, mentoring, and promotion local leaders, designers, and innovators around the world. Convinced that global, authentic, and humble engagement among academia, the private sector and civil society can, together, leverage technology-driven innovation for development, he has co-created and taught the "Design for UNICEF" course at New York University with Clay Shirky. Christopher has taught and lectured at Columbia University, Harvard University, and IIT Delhi.

Prior to joining UNICEF in 2006, Christopher taught in Lebanon and launched start-ups in East Africa and Egypt. He holds degrees in Philosophy from American University in Cairo, and in Media Studies form the New School in New York. In 2013, he was recognized as one of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people.

  • Two women with plates of food sit next to a fire pit with a piece of meat cooking on a rotisserie, surrounded by cobblestone ground. Other people in the background are standing and holding plates. The scene takes place outdoors, possibly in a garden or backyard.
  • A group of people is gathered in an outdoor setting with a brick wall and hammocks in the background. They are seated and standing around a fire pit, enjoying food and engaging in conversation. The atmosphere appears relaxed and casual.
  • A man stands and presents to a seated audience. Behind him, a large projection screen displays an image of a hand holding an older model mobile phone, with text at the top reading "SMS Nutrition Surveillance." The room has brick walls and large windows.
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