The Project

Today’s IPCC Working Group 1 report is a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable…Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.

Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary General (2021)

Lego is launching a £100m competition to find solutions that will make a positive impact on the lives of children in response to what the toymaker said was a “global early childhood emergency”…the foundation’s new prize was “audacious philanthropy”

Lego offers £100m to find innovations tackling ‘global childhood crisis’

In this Code Red, young people are vulnerable and faced with futures of increasing uncertainty, as environmental change is compounded by multiple emerging crises (pandemics, wars, forced migration, refugees, cost of living).

This sense of crisis and looming disasters is shared by global organisations such as the UN and its agencies, the World Bank, the IMF, the OECD, the World Economic Forum, and the Asian Development Bank, and by local, regional and global philanthropic foundations seeking to support game-changing interventions into these crises.

Our Objectives and Principles


*           Are an alliance of internationally networked and place-connected researchers with in-depth expertise in the complexities of, and intersections between:           #children #youngpeople#play#thecreativearts#pedagogyandeducation;

#trainingandlivelihood#healthandwellbeing   #intergenerationaljustice;

#politicaleconomy#humangeography#socialmovements; #activism;

#Indigenousknowledges#feminisms; #genderjustice;

#governance; #policy; #technologies; #economies.

*           Leverage existing networks, and a significant catalogue of previous and existing research projects (in excess of $100 million in funded projects) and partnerships, to develop ethically innovative, collaborative, applied research projects and interventions to make children and young people’s lives and futures ‘better’ in the context of multiple crises.

Putting children and young people first, the Code Red Alliance will:

*           Leverage and scale-up innovative re-imaginings of childhood, youth, and adaptation for just futures – through 2030, 2050 and beyond.

*           Use the convening power of global networks of public research universities to create new, multigenerational partnerships to adapt, regenerate, and improve young people’s lives in the context of crises.

*           Productively contribute to a world where all young people are engaged as active stakeholders in shaping presents and futures that allow for flourishing, joy, and hope in adapting to ongoing emergencies.

We aim to co-produce – with communities and stakeholders, and across disciplines:

*           New models of childhood and youth – that promise to transform conversations and interventions so that children and young people can adapt to and live well with multiple forms of uncertainty.

*           Ethical innovation in projects concerned with education, work, digital tech, play/leisure, food (in)security, and young people’s participation, in order to promote new forms of intergenerational and interspecies justice.

We acknowledge:

*           That because of ongoing intergenerational injustices – shaped by colonialism, genders and sexualities, race and ethnicity, different abilities and neuro-diversities, and the profound inequalities produced by global capitalism’s pursuit of extraction and profit – these crises are experienced differently by young people and communities in different parts of the Global North and South.

This project is supported by a grant from the centre for Research for Educational Impact (REDI)


The Code Red for Humanity Report has been prepared to identify and highlight the ways in which a range of the most important intergovernmental or ‘supranational’ global organisations and agencies conceive of and imagine the ways earth systems crises, including those related to climate change and global capitalism, impact the lives and futures of children and young people. 

The Audacious Philanthropy Report is prepared with the Lego Foundation’s Build a World of Play Challenge, and Sherrie Rollins Westin’s suggestion that the Challenge is ‘audacious philanthropy’, as its two key points of reference.

The report seeks to do a number of things:

  • Define the character of philanthropic activity in its various forms;
  • Address concerns about the grant giving practices in the philanthropic eco-system;
  • Provide case studies of a number of significant Foundations in this eco-system;
  • Suggest ways in which universities and researchers might engage with these foundations.
Important info:

Code Red Workshops

Building on a 2019 conference Young people, well-being, resilience and enterprise: critical perspectives for the Anthropocene, and the recently published edited collections – Young People and Thinking Technologies in/for the Anthropocene, and Young People and Stories of/for the Anthropocene we conducted an intensive workshop to imagine a multi-stakeholder, multi-country, multi-community, multi-organisational, multi-year (long term) program of applied research, ethical innovation, transformative and disruptive research, policy and practice for futures that are sustainable and just for all.

September 15th and 16th, 2022

The University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, SPAIN

Project Lead