UNICEF is committed to doing all it can to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in partnership with governments, civil society, business, academia and the United Nations family – and especially children and young people.
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake speaks during the second regular session of the 2017 UNICEF Executive Board at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Seated next to him is the President of the 2017 UNICEF Executive Board and Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda H.E. Mr. Walton Alfonso Webson.
NEW YORK, United States of America, 18 September 2017 – The second regular session of the 2017 UNICEF Executive Board, which closed on Friday, culminated in the adoption of the UNICEF Strategic Plan, the framework that will guide the work of UNICEF over the next four years, 2018–2021. The Plan was developed in close consultation with a host of partners, including Member States, other United Nations entities, partners in the private sector and civil society, and children.
The Strategic Plan represents “[a]ll of us, working together, lending our energy, time and resources, and our voices to deliver the hope and help that every child, every society and every country needs,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “The hope and help that we measure in lives improved, lives saved, futures brightened.”
During the session, the work of the Board included the review and consideration of a number of other programme, evaluation and financial documents that will guide UNICEF’s work in the coming years as it follows its road map to achieving sustainable results for children.
Country programme documents
The Executive Board approved 26 programme documents, covering the seven regions where UNICEF works, and including a total of 42 countries and territories.
In his opening remarks, H.E. Mr. Walton Alfonso Webson, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations and President of the 2017 UNICEF Executive Board, urged members to focus on the question of how UNICEF supports the work of the United Nations, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the pledge of leaving no one behind. Country programme documents respond to this question. They are developed in close collaboration with host Governments and other partners, in line with national development plans, the United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) in the respective countries, and the Sustainable Development Goals. They are a vehicle for cementing partnerships with others in order to reach children.
The total resources approved in the 26 programme documents is almost US$1.25 billion in regular (core) resources, subject to the availability of funds, and almost US$3.17 billion in other resources, subject to the availability of specific-purpose contributions.
Developed in line with the UNICEF Strategic Plan for 2018–2021, the new programmes will build on past experience and results achieved by UNICEF and partners following the five strategic Goal Areas outlined in the new plan:
A doctor in Kyrgyzstan explains how neural defects may express themselves in a child’s brain. He operates on some 20 cases of spina bifida every year.
Goal 1: Every child survives and thrives
UNICEF will work to ensure that girls and boys, especially those who are marginalized and those living in humanitarian conditions, have access to high-impact health, nutrition, HIV and early childhood development interventions from pregnancy to adolescence.
UNICEF in action: Vitamin enriched flour to help prevent birth defects in Kyrgyzstan – Two-month-old Abdurahim was born with spina bifida. The risk of such birth defects increases when a mother has a diet low in nutrients. In an effort to improve nutrition among pregnant women, large mills in Kyrgyzstan are obliged by law to fortify flour with folic acid. UNICEF is working to help the Government to enforce the law and raise awareness among mothers.
UNICEF will work to ensure that girls and boys, in particular the most marginalized and those affected by humanitarian situations, are provided with inclusive and equitable quality education and learning opportunities.
UNICEF in action: For one child, education is the solution to Yemen violence – Fahd is one of more than a million children who have been displaced by the current conflict in Yemen. He dreams of becoming a civil engineer so he can help to rebuild his city and country. In 2017, UNICEF supported a back-to-school campaign that included renovating nearly 700 damaged schools, providing school materials, training teachers and mobilizing parents and communities to send their children to school.
Marie-Claire and Mashata stand in front of the home where they are living with her husband and children in the Mussungue reception centre for refugees in Dundo, northern Angola. Mashata witnessed both of his parents being killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo before fleeing to Angola
Goal 3: Every child is protected from violence and exploitation
UNICEF will work to ensure that girls and boys, especially the most vulnerable and those affected by humanitarian situations, are protected from all forms of violence, exploitation, abuse and harmful practices.
UNICEF in action: In Angola, a refugee centre offers new hope for a boy who lost his family – The same conflict that killed his parents and attempted to recruit him into the militia forced 10-year-old Mashata to flee his hometown in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for Angola, where he arrived at a refugee centre. UNICEF works with provincial authorities and other partners to provide assistance to children and families at these centres, and helps to reunite unaccompanied children with their families.
Goal 4: Every child lives in a safe and clean environment
UNICEF will work to ensure sustained use of safe water and sanitation services and adoption of hygiene practices and strengthened systems for a clean and safe environment for all children, women, girls and boys, particularly the most disadvantaged and those affected by humanitarian situations.
UNICEF in action: Nigeria open defecation free by 2025 – New latrines and hand pumps provide the necessary infrastructure, but how can behaviour be changed? Habiba and the other women on the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee in the village of Gidan Darge are volunteering to help eliminate open defecation in their communities and ensure safe hygiene practices. UNICEF is working closely with the Government of Nigeria, as well as the local government and dedicated volunteers like Habiba, to make the country open defecation free by 2025.
Goal 5: Every child has an equitable chance in life
UNICEF will work to ensure that girls and boys are provided with an equitable chance in life.
UNICEF in action: Invisible children in the Dominican Republic – Brandon, 3, has never been registered, and he’s not alone. UNICEF estimates that the births of about 186,000 children in the Dominican Republic are unrecorded. Registering a child’s birth is a critical first step towards safeguarding her or his lifelong protection. To guarantee the right to identity, UNICEF is working with the Central Electoral Board – the institution responsible for the civil registry of persons – the Ministries of Health and Education, and civil society, to achieve universal birth registration in hospitals and promote late enrolment campaigns.
Until Brandon, 3, is registered, he will not be able to receive medical care, be vaccinated, or attend school.
Advancing gender equality
Advancing gender equality and the rights of women and girls is essential to realizing the rights of all children. The UNICEF Gender Action Plan, 2018–2021 that was presented for the Board’s information outlines how UNICEF will promote gender equality across the organization’s work, in alignment with the new Strategic Plan, and building on lessons learned from the current Gender Action Plan, which ends this year.
In humanitarian situations, UNICEF aims not only to deliver emergency life-saving assistance, but also to rebuild and revitalize systems so that the humanitarian response contributes to long-term development, thereby achieving more for those affected.
In an update on the organization’s approach to humanitarian action, the Board heard about the challenges that must be overcome to continue serving the short- and long-term needs of children and communities whose lives are affected by conflicts and natural hazards. These challenges include the difficulty of raising flexible funds for humanitarian action, which are essential to UNICEF’s ability to respond quickly and equitably to emergencies.
Mr. Lake discussed the importance of development in humanitarian contexts. “You cannot achieve the SDGs unless you are doing development in humanitarian contexts because of the tens, hundreds of millions of children who are now in conflict situations. If they don’t get education and health…it is simply mathematically impossible to reach the SDGs,” he said.
Joint field visit to Nepal
The Executive Board heard about an April 2017 joint field visit to Nepal. Led by Ambassador Webson, a delegation of 20 members of the Executive Boards of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF reviewed the work of the United Nations organizations in Nepal and how they contribute to the achievement of national development plans, and observed the resilience of the Nepalese people in the face of the 2015 earthquakes.
“The country has moved into the recovery phase, but given the difficult topography of the country … and the damage to the infrastructure and the roads, the recovery process will be a long one,” said H.E. Mr. Webson. In their report, the delegation highlighted the need for continued positive engagement from all stakeholders, including the Government, development partners, the United Nations country team, civil society organizations and the private sector, so that Nepal is able to successfully implement its development plan.
Closing of the Board
The Executive Board approved a total of seven decisions at the session, including on the new Strategic Plan, the 26 new programme documents and the UNICEF integrated budget, 2018-2021 that will fund the organization’s work under the new Strategic Plan.
In closing, Ambassador Webson said, “the approval of all of these decisions has been consequential and there will be positive ripples throughout the organization and throughout our work.”