|UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman addresses the Executive Board on the final day of its second regular session of 2008. Board President Anders Lidén is at right.|
By Roshni Karwal
NEW YORK, USA, 18 September 2008 – In closing remarks at the UNICEF Executive Board second regular session of 2008, Executive Director Ann M. Veneman thanked the board for decisions taken on many key issues this week.
Among these were the extension of the organization’s mid-term strategic plan for 2006-09 and modification of the system for allocating regular resources to UNICEF’s worldwide programmes.
Veneman also noted that important insights came out of the board’s special-focus session on policy and advocacy for children's rights. She said the increase in funding for this area was gratifying.
UNICEF’s critical priorities
The Executive Board session, which concluded with yesterday’s meeting, began on Monday at United Nations headquarters in New York. Veneman cited seven critical priorities addressed at the session:
• Policy-oriented ‘upstream work’ on child rights
• Strategic engagement in middle-income countries
• Research, learning and knowledge management
• Transparency, accountability and efficiency in UNICEF's operations and business practices
• Coordinated approaches and collaborative work with other organization
• Funding modalities, including the crucial role of UNICEF’s national committees for UNICEF
• Staff security worldwide.
The Executive Director went on to highlight ongoing UN efforts to mitigate the effects of rising food and fuel prices in the developing world, as well as UNICEF's support for these efforts at the global and national levels.
Need for research and data
At the closing meeting, board members also discussed the importance of improved research, data and evaluation to better target UNICEF’s investments in programmes and, more important, to advise governments on children’s issues.
The discussion centred on the Florence-based Innocenti Research Centre, UNICEF’s main research arm. Innocenti was founded in 1988 to promote awareness and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in both industrialized and developing countries.
Following a report on the research centre’s progress, the board approved its proposal for an extension of its work.
AIDS and young people
In another core area, the Executive Board reviewed the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS global campaign on young people affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Veneman emphasized the drive towards greater collaborative work with sister UN agencies and other partners on the issue of children and AIDS. The more effectively all parties work together toward common targets for prevention and treatment, she said, the more effective the results will be.
Finally, Veneman paid tribute to two long-serving UNICEF staff members attending the board session: Esther Guluma, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, who will retire by the end of the year, and Gianfranco Rotigliano, who will succeed Guluma as Regional Director.