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UNICEF Executive Board

UNICEF Executive Board focuses on accelerating progress for children and young people



NEW YORK, United States of America, 12 June 2018 – The UNICEF Executive Board opened its Annual Session of 2018 yesterday. Included on the agenda for its consideration over the three-and-a-half day meeting are the revised evaluation policy of UNICEF and several annual reports from 2017 (of the Executive Director; on ethics, the evaluation function, humanitarian action; audit and investigations; and implementation of the Gender Action Plan).

In his opening remarks, H.E. Mr. Tore Hattrem, President of the UNICEF Executive Board and Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations, underlined the significance of the session, which marked the end of the cycle of the previous four-year Strategic Plan, 2014-2017, and the first year of programme implementation under UNICEF’s new Strategic Plan, 2018-2021.

UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta H. Fore, outlined her vision of how UNICEF will accelerate progress for children and young people, which she emphasized is grounded in the targets established in the UNICEF Strategic Plan and the Secretary-General’s reform efforts.

“[T]he world is united in its commitment to shape a better future for children and young people,” she said, “But we must face a difficult fact. If we fail to dramatically accelerate our progress, we will not reach the Sustainable Development Goals.”

UNICEF Image: A Syrian girl stands in the grounds of a school and makes a heart shape with her hands.
© UNICEF/UN0145457/Charbonneau
Wahida, 11, lost both her parents who were killed by shelling in 2016. She was displaced twice and lost one school year. She is now in grade 4 at a UNICEF supported school in Aleppo.

Four priorities to accelerate progress for children and young people

To accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda to realize children’s rights and shape sustainable progress that leaves no one behind, Executive Director Fore said that UNICEF needs to accelerate how it drives results by scaling-up its work on four priorities.

1. Intensify work to integrate development approaches into humanitarian responses

“Our emergency responses must not only save and improve lives in the short-term — they must be designed in such a way that helps fragile communities and countries recover, rebuild and avoid backsliding in the future,” said Ms. Fore. “And so, as we respond to emergencies in a way that also plants the seeds of development, we must take bold steps to reduce risks and vulnerabilities in our development programming.”

Commending UNICEF’s achievements in humanitarian action, Ambassador Hattrem emphasized that interventions must accompany efforts by the United Nations to prevent conflicts, and that “UNICEF must continue focusing its efforts in strengthening the development-humanitarian continuum, including through continuing its close collaboration with its sister agencies and the entire United Nations system.”

2. Expand UNICEF’s focus on local solutions, such as delivering integrated community-based health care, at scale

The Executive Director said that “experience shows that community health systems with community workers are the most effective means of delivering primary care to underserved populations.” Citing the UNICEF approach in Afghanistan, she underlined what is possible when investment is combined with UNICEF’s expertise and reach. With the support of two donors, in 2017 the UNICEF team delivered primary health care services to almost 1 million women, children and newborns, through 70 mobile health units.

“In the years ahead,” Ms. Fore said, “we will work closely with Governments to design and deliver these services through their formal health systems — a critical step towards reaching universal health coverage and the SDG’s vision of “health for all.”

UNICEF Image: A newborn baby in hospital in Afghanistan
© UNICEF/UN0159875/Niekpor
A healthy newborn in a hospital in Afghanistan in the post-delivery room in February 2018. Insecurity affects access to health services in the country.

3. The Young People’s Agenda

“As we strengthen support for children across the first decade of life and consolidate the gains made as they grow, we will not forget the equally important second decade of life,” said Ms. Fore.

UNICEF plans to launch a partnership around the Young People’s Agenda in September, bringing together partners from every sector and across the UN family to design, scale-up and deliver the education, training and support that young people need to shape better futures for themselves and their societies.”

“The Agenda will help us deliver on our commitments to young people in our Strategic Plan, and support of a generation of young people who can change the future, if given the chance to do so,” she said.

In his remarks about education, Ambassador Hattrem also alluded to the situation of young people. Noting that for some children the education received while displaced or living in conflict situations makes up the majority, if not all of their schooling, he said, “the quality and consistency of this education is crucial to prepare them for life after conflict – to prepare them to work, to earn a living, to help rebuild their community and their country, or to enable their future integration into a new country.”

4. Pursue and apply new innovations in every aspect of our work

From delivering services to hard-to-reach communities to fighting diseases like Zika, new and proven technologies are enabling UNICEF to be quicker and more effective.

To explore more innovations like these, UNICEF is now co-chairing, with WFP, the UN Innovation Network. The Network brings together innovation experts from inside and outside the UN to share tools, resources and best practices to plan, monitor and measure work in the field.

UNICEF Image: A crowd watches a drone take off in a village in Malawi
© UNICEF/UN070530/Brown
In June 2017, the Government of Malawi and UNICEF launched an air corridor to test potential humanitarian use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or drones. The corridor is the first of its kind in Africa and one of the first globally with a focus on humanitarian and development use.

Ambassador Hattrem highlighted the Executive Board’s plans to innovate, revitalize and streamline its processes. Citing the QCPR (quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system) and the recently adopted UN development system reform resolution as guiding documents, he stated “we as member states are clearly encouraged to make practical changes to enhance our working methods with the aim of improving the efficiency, transparency and quality of governance structures.”

In this regard, the President had tabled at the session a draft decision on modernizing the UNICEF Board, which, when adopted, would get the ball rolling. He said that he looked forward to hearing the members’ ideas on how the proposed actions would be implemented.

Partnering for results

“Running through all of these priorities is our determination to expand ties with Governments, foundations, NGOs, non-profits and businesses. Each brings different strengths to the table,” said Ms. Fore.

She underlined how UNICEF wants to work with businesses, and all partners, to find new and more effective ways to reach the children and young people still being left behind.

Within the UN family, UNICEF will strengthen ties with its sister agencies to be efficient as possible across every programme and accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Accountability, excellence and learning

“This is an ambitious agenda. We cannot carry it out without our single greatest asset, and our single greatest resource: our people,” said Ms. Fore.

“Our ongoing efforts to make zero tolerance a reality for harassment and abuse of authority of all kinds, as well as for sexual exploitation and abuse, are critical not only to staff well-being but, by extension, to our work on behalf of children and young people, and our global reputation and credibility.”

Ms. Fore reported that, as part of this work, an independent task force on workplace gender discrimination and harassment has been launched and that UNICEF has become the first UN agency to achieve EDGE certification – the leading global assessment and business certification standard for gender equality.

“I am pleased that UNICEF is taking concrete actions to continue to improve its effectiveness and transparency in this area,” said Ambassador Hattrem, referring to the organization’s efforts to strengthen protections against sexual exploitation and abuse and workplace sexual harassment. “The organization’s good reputation also carries a big responsibility in the eyes of its millions of donors — individuals, organizations and Governments — that believe deeply in its goals, and most importantly, in its commitment and ability to fulfil them.”

To bring fresh perspectives to UNICEF’s work, Ms. Fore announced a Senior Fellows Programme, which will bring talented individuals from the public and private sectors to work on UNICEF programmes around the world.

Read more:

About the UNICEF Executive Board

UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018-2021

Sustainable Development Goals



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