Ms. Lotta Sylwander joined the UNICEF Philippines country office on 14 March 2014. As UNICEF Representative, Ms. Sylwander will be responsible for all the activities under the Government of Philippines-UNICEF Country Programme of Cooperation on the part of UNICEF. These include the planning, coordination and implementation of programmes of cooperation for the enhancement of the survival, protection, development and participation of children and women in national development efforts.
Ms. Sylwander served as the Representative of the Zambia Country Office in April 2006. In August 2010, she took up the post of UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam.
Before joining UNICEF, Ms. Sylwander served as Deputy Director General and Director of the Africa Department at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). She held this position from 2001–2006.
A Swedish citizen, Ms. Sylwander holds an equivalent to MSc. in Social Anthropology. Ms. Sylwander began her career in NGO work in Sweden and spent time in the Philippines in the 1980s. A university lecturer at the University of Stockholm, she worked as Socio-Economist for UNDP in Zimbabwe (1990–94) and later worked as an independent development consultant. She joined Sida in 1996 as a Social Development Advisor in South Africa and later held positions as the Senior Social Development Advisor and Special Advisor on HIV and AIDS at the Sida headquarters in Stockholm.
In Viet Nam, Ms. Sylwander was instrumental in leading changes and transforming UNICEF programming to ensure continued relevance of cooperation in a middle-income country context. This included a stronger focus on child protection, social protection and ethnic minority issues, and presence of UNICEF programmes at the sub-national level, which is particularity relevant in the fast-evolving development context of Viet Nam. Ms. Sylwander provided leadership for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Country Programme of Cooperation between the Government of Viet Nam and UNICEF (about US$ 18 million budget in 2011). Ms. Sylwander has played a significant role in the conceptualisation and development of the One Plan III (UNDAF). She also led the design and implementation of UNICEF programmes within the framework of the One UN initiative in Viet Nam.
Ms. Sylwander was dedicated to the key aspect of the UNICEF Viet Nam Resource Mobilisation and Contribution Management Strategy, including identification of fund-raising priorities, maintaining and establishing donor contacts and pursuing fund-raising opportunities to support UNICEF programmes in Viet Nam.
Ms. Sylwander and her team worked closely with the Ministry of Social Affairs/MOLISA on the design and development of ambitious child protection policy and legislation initiatives. She and her team are proud to have contributed to the recent important achievements of MOLISA, such as the recognition of social work as a profession, the improvement of the national policies and structure of the social work system in relevant Government agencies, the approval of the first National Programme on Child Protection, and strengthening of child protection systems at sub-national levels.
In the area of adoption, Ms. Sylwander positioned UNICEF as a strong advocate and a trusted broker between involved embassies and bilateral agencies and organisations on the one hand and the Ministry of Justice/Government of Viet Nam on the other. She and her team influenced and assisted the Ministry of Justice in strengthening the legal framework, procedures and practices with regard to child adoption in Viet Nam for the effective implementation of the Hague Convention on Adoption and Adoption Law of Viet Nam.
In the area of justice for children, Ms. Sylwander and her team worked in close collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and justice agencies to promote the establishment of a child-friendly justice system for children, including children in conflict with the law and child victims and witnesses of crime. She and her team made significant contributions for the development of the Law on Handling of Administrative Violations, which reformed the juvenile justice system considerably as 70 per cent of juveniles in conflict with the law are dealt with through the administrative system. Under her leadership, UNICEF Viet Nam provided substantial technical assistance to the development of the first drafts of the amended Penal Code and Penal Procedure Code, which now include special investigation, prosecution and adjudication procedures that are child-friendly and gender-sensitive, and prioritise diversion and alternatives to detention for children who are in conflict with the law.
Ms. Sylwander and her team worked closely with the Supreme People's Court through high-level advocacy, consultation and technical assistance, to significantly contribute to the process of the creation of the first-ever specialised court for children in Viet Nam, a critical institution for enforcing the rights of children. The proposal for the establishment of a Family and Juvenile Court has informed the amendment of the Law on Court Organisation as part of the ongoing judicial reform process underway in Viet Nam. Under her leadership, various activities were implemented to strengthen capacity for law enforcement and justice officers on child-friendly investigation, prosecution and adjudication.
Ms. Sylwander also worked closely with the Ministry of Health and the National Institute for Nutrition to ensure improved Maternal and Neo-Natal health, improved nutrition and access to clean water and sanitation. In particular, Ms. Sylwander successfully promoted the change of legislation in Viet Nam around the advertisement and marketing of breast milk substitutes and six-month maternity leave.
As the Viet Nam Country Programme focused its work on both up-stream and on-the-ground work, Ms. Sylwander spent a lot of time in the eight provinces where UNICEF focuses to ensure that the organisation has "boots on the ground" and that policy changes really materialised in communities. During her time in Viet Nam, the office also started its Private Sector Partnership programme and was able to establish a solid partnership with the private sector for CSR and fundraising.