UNICEF Strategic Plan: 2018-2021

Executive Summary

Young girl standing against a wall
UNICEF/2017/Sierra Leone


The world has made tremendous progress in advancing the rights and improving the lives of children over the
past few decades.

• The number of children dying before their fifth birthday declined by more than half between 1990 and 2015.
• Stunting prevalence among children under age 5 fell from approximately 33 per cent to approximately
23 per cent – representing 43 million fewer stunted children.
• The proportion of children enrolled in primary school in low- and middle-income countries reached
91 per cent in 2015, up from 83 per cent in 1990.

But persistent inequities and lack of opportunity continue to endanger the lives and futures of millions of
children around the world. Compared to children growing up in the wealthiest households, the poorest
children are:

• Twice as likely to die before reaching the age of five.
• Twice as likely to be stunted.
• Five times as likely to be out of school.
Girls, children with disabilities and children from minority groups are more likely to be marginalized and
• Adolescent girls are more likely to be illiterate than adolescent boys.
• 1 in 10 girls under the age of 20 has suffered sexual violence.
• Children with disabilities are more likely to be out of school.


Building on lessons learned … emphasizing UNICEF’s contribution to achieving the 2030 SDGs …
and recognizing the need to work across sectors with a focus on cross-cutting issues of equity,
gender and sustainability, the Strategic Plan will increase UNICEF’s ability to deliver results for
children in four key ways:

• Aligning our organization's resources around common goals and strategies.
• Supporting our ability to make strategic choices.
• Creating more effective communication about UNICEF’s work for every child to win more support
for the cause of children.
• Strengthening our organization’s accountability framework.

Young girl against the wall
Publication date