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UNICEF Executive Board

UNICEF Executive Board closes with a focus on business for results

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NEW YORK, United States of America, 16 September 2019 ─ Exploring the power of partnerships with businesses to achieve results for children was the theme of a special focus session held on Friday morning. Looking at partnerships in the broader sense, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore remarked, “Funding will always be a key part of our partnerships with business. But we must go beyond funding and also work with businesses to align their products, services, platforms, research, expertise and market reach with the needs of children in mind.”

© UNICEF/UN0344557/McIlwaine
During a special focus session with industry leaders held during the 2019 second regular session of the Executive Board, UNICEF explored the power of business to achieve results for children.

Special focus session: ‘Business for Results’

Moderated by Ms. Camilla Viken, Executive Director of the Norwegian National Committee for UNICEF, the special focus session brought together leading business experts from the private sector to discuss why it’s important for business and UNICEF to work together and how this will have an impact on the lives of children. Panellists included Kate Behncken, Vice President and Lead of Microsoft Philanthropies; Mauricio Ramos, Chief Executive Officer of Millicom; and Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Executive Chairman of the Lego Group.

When asked what a win-win partnership would look like from a business perspective, panellists identified a shared vision, hands-on collaboration and mutual trust as key elements. “We chose UNICEF, and UNICEF chose us, because we had a shared vision. And I think that’s the way partnerships come to be, this is the definition of a partnership,” said Mr. Ramos.

Mr. Knudstorp talked passionately about play, and how allowing children to play helps them to develop: “Children can be role models for all of us in that they are exploring, experimenting and being playful. When you are playful and playing with an idea, you are experimenting, taking risks, and you see that there are many different answers to the same question. So, [play] opens the door to creativity.”

As an example, he asked all delegates to build a duck from the five LEGO bricks placed on their desks. For the first time during the session the room was filled with talk and laughter, demonstrating how play, and playfulness, can stimulate the brain. Early childhood development is a shared value and a common purpose for both UNICEF and the LEGO Group, making it the perfect fit for this partnership.

Some of the added value that panellists saw in partnering with UNICEF were fairness, a strong brand, credibility, expertise, and access to government counterparts and resources.

Regarding the relationship between UNICEF and businesses, Mr. Ramos commented, “one thing that you must continue to do is having this unique approach to partnerships.” He added, “You don’t think of us as a piggy bank; we don’t think of you as a rubber stamp. And I think that is what makes this work.”

Mr. Ramos highlighted that taking a bold stance in the digital space is a key action for UNICEF: “I think there is a world being created out there where UNICEF really needs to be,” he said.

The importance of engaging in the digital world was echoed by Ms. Behncken, who recalled meeting a boy in a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. When asked what digital skills meant to him, he said, “Digital skills are tools, they give me wings. They will enable me to fly out of here and then come back and develop solutions.” This is a powerful reminder that “Digital skills can also give children hope,” said Ms. Behncken.

UNICEF Executive Board President H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Morocco, thanked the panel for their insights and reminded the Executive Board that UNICEF would not be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 without the private sector. The organization’s ‘Business for Results’ initiative aims to scale up engagement with business, developing more shared value partnerships that will deliver even greater results for children.

© UNICEF/UN0344587/McIlwaine
UNICEF Executive Board President H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Morocco, right, and UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore, left.

Key decisions

The Executive Board adopted a total of 10 decisions during its meeting, including a joint item on cost recovery harmonizing the approaches of UNICEF and its sister agencies UNDP, UNFPA, UNOPS and UN-Women; and a decision on working methods of the Executive Board, which emphasizes the importance of coherence, collaboration and coordination in the work of the Executive Boards of the funds and programmes, while reaffirming the authority of each Board to adopt decisions at its own discretion.

A decision adopted on updated financial estimates 2019─2022 for the UNICEF Strategic Plan will help UNICEF to determine the level of expenditure from core resources, thus informing new country programmes that will come to the Board for approval. A decision was also adopted on the structured dialogue on financing the UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2018–2021, which aims to improve the quality and transparency of funding and to better match resources to the outcomes of the Strategic Plan.

The Board also adopted decisions on the Private Fundraising and Partnerships financial report for 2018; on an evaluation report and management response on UNICEF strategies and programme performance to strengthen child protection systems; as well as on the Report of the Independent Task Force on Workplace Gender Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Harassment and Abuse of Authority and response from the management.

Five new country programmes were approved (Angola, Iraq, Liberia, Mexico and Sierra Leone), and seven ongoing country programmes were extended (Cuba, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Madagascar, Paraguay, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela).



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