Regional and global UNICEF meetings in Bern focus on innovation and equity
BERN, Switzerland, 4 May 2011 – Equity and innovation are at the centre of two events taking place here in the Swiss capital: the 56th Annual Meeting of UNICEF National Committees, which concludes today; and the UNICEF Regional Management Team meeting for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEECIS), which winds up tomorrow.
Held concurrently in the same location, the meetings provide a unique opportunity for dialogue and interaction among UNICEF Representatives from the CEECIS region, other UNICEF staff and the heads of the National Committees.
Reaching the most vulnerable
Executive Director Anthony Lake is also attending both meetings to share his vision of UNICEF’s new focus on equity and to contribute to the discussions.
“I remember very clearly, more than one year ago, our first substantive discussions about UNICEF’s refocus on equity – the idea that development investment must target those in greatest need,” Mr. Lake told the National Committee meeting on 2 May, a year and a day after his appointment as Executive Director.
“People are coming to understand equity, not only as a moral requirement but also as a practical imperative, providing the most effective way to reach the most vulnerable,” he added.
Integral role of National Committees
UNICEF’s National Committees are an integral part of the global organization, working in 36 industrialized countries to raise funds and promote child rights. Their Annual Meeting brings together the heads of all the committees.
Hosted by the Swiss Committee, this year's gathering is structured around innovation – both from within UNICEF and its National Committees, and from partners organizations such the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IKEA, The Future Foundation and YouTube.
Amidst continuing financial challenges worldwide, the meeting also provided an opportunity for National Committees to examine funding trends and plan efforts to increase the level regular resources in support of UNICEF’s life-saving programmes.
“I believe in doing more with less, but there are limits, and we are reaching them,” said Mr. Lake. “We simply cannot do our work without your increasing help, not only in raising regular resources but in helping us build the movement to reach the neediest children.
Children at risk in CEECIS
At the CEECIS Regional Management Team meeting, meanwhile, the UNICEF Representatives from the region’s 22 country offices addressed the situation of children without parental care. Disabled children comprise a large proportion of the 650,000 children remaining in state care in the region.
Mr. Lake described the work to reform child-care systems in CEECIS as heartening. He pointed out, as well, that children with disabilities are among the most disadvantaged, placing them at the heart of the equity agenda.
The Regional Management Team went on to examine a range of issues, including juvenile justice, nutrition and early childhood development. Following his attendance at the meeting, Mr. Lake also met with the Deputy Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, to discuss cooperation.