How UNICEF is building a stronger values-based culture to achieve results for every child

Annual session of 2023

22 June 2023

NEW YORK, United States of America, 22 June 2023 ─ The UNICEF Executive Board wrapped up its annual session of 2023 last Friday. A common thread running across the rich discussions held over three and a half days was the importance of continued investment in a values-based organization. Speakers emphasized how cultivating and promoting values such as equity, diversity and inclusion are fundamental propellers to drive change for every child.

“I am confident that our discussions, as always, will keep the rights, protection and betterment of the lives of children at the centre of our focus,” said UNICEF Executive Board President, Ambassador Marie-Louise Koch Wegter (Denmark), in her opening remarks.


UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell stressed that “our capacity to successfully reach children in need, to tackle the issues and crises they face, and to leave no one behind, is dependent on how we can continue to improve our organization.”

In this regard, she touched on several recent initiatives and successes, including the organization-wide global leadership meeting from which five key commitments would be taken forward; formalization of the global technical teams; and progress on work to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse.

Achieving results, inside and outside UNICEF

On the first day of the session, Executive Director Russell presented her annual report to the Executive Board. As the first report on the implementation of the new Strategic Plan, 2022–2025, it recorded overall good progress for children. Internally, efforts multiplied to strengthen organizational culture; externally, concerted action ensured that most result areas are on track. Some highlights include:

Results for children in 2022:

  • Despite the challenges posed by the global food and nutrition crisis, 356.3 million children under 5 years of age – more than ever before – benefited from programmes to prevent malnutrition in all its forms.
  • 37.9 million out-of-school children and adolescents (49 per cent girls) accessed education, including 3.1 million children on the move and 18.6 million children in humanitarian settings.
  • 77.9 million children were vaccinated against measles.
  • 26 million people gained access to at least basic sanitation services, 30.6 million to basic water, 23.6 million to basic hygiene, while more than 39 million people were reached with water, sanitation or hygiene services in humanitarian emergencies.
  • UNICEF scaled up programming to prevent violence, exploitation and harmful practices, including through parenting support programmes, which reached 11.8 million caregivers in 2022, up from 3 million in 2021.
  • Across all Goals Areas, UNICEF disability-inclusive programmes reached more than 4.5 million children with disabilities in 142 countries, including in humanitarian crises.

Results for UNICEF staff in 2022:

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion became more institutionalized with the recruitment of a Culture and Diversity team.
  • Gender parity advanced, reaching 48.9 per cent women staff in 2022.
  • About 40 per cent of UNICEF offices met the organizational benchmark on psychological safety and trust, a significant increase from 28 per cent in 2021, but with noticeable regional contrasts.

And the new UNICEF Disability Inclusion Policy and Strategy stipulates that by 2025, UNICEF will increase the number of employees with disabilities by at least 2 per cent across all offices, with the aim of reaching 7 per cent representation by 2030.

Additional results can be viewed in the Executive Director’s report, as well as the UNICEF 2022 Annual Report.