First National Conference on Family (2023)

03 April 2023
family conference #3 2023
UNICEF Serbia/2023

Thank you for inviting UNICEF to participate and to contribute to this important discussion on demographics in Serbia today.

As you know UNICEF, with its universal mandate for children, has been present in Serbia since 1947 and has been always a trusted partner supporting the Government to fulfil its international obligations over the past 76 years. We have excellent collaboration in education, health and early childhood development, social protection, and since recently in youth engagement and mental health. Which means in all human development sectors. I would like to thank the respected ministers and the Government for this partnership as we have a common goal – the wellbeing of children of Serbia and the prosperity of the country. 

Therefore, we look forward to the discussion today as the demographic trends have significant implications on social and economic development.

In 2022, UNICEF and the World Bank jointly published the Human Capital Report which outlined several recommendations for improving human capital development in Serbia.

Serbia has made it a priority to boost fertility rates and we’ve heard today from distinguished Minister Kisic about the results of this national policy.

And we should look forward to what else should be done to ensure that Serbia will develop human capital that can contribute to the country’s development.

It is a well-known fact that lower-income households tend to have higher fertility rates. They also are more likely to respond to financial incentives for family planning. This means that the new labour market entrants will increasingly come from poor and vulnerable backgrounds: estimates suggest that by 2030 some 30 per cent of new labour market entrants in Serbia will be from vulnerable and minority backgrounds. This means that with increasing birth rates, Serbia should invest more to ensure that children and youth from all backgrounds are supported to develop their full potential so that the country will provide every young citizen with meaningful opportunities to contribute to the society. As 2030 is just around the corner.

It is therefore important to address poverty today. Poverty experienced in childhood has particularly severe effects on children’s development, and it can hinder building the human resources needed for sustained economic prosperity of the country.

Recently, UNICEF within a project with UNFPA and UNHCR made poverty projections based on the impact of the war in Ukraine on the Serbian society. I would like to thank all the Government representatives who contributed to it particularly the Prime Minister’s Advisor on SDG Prof Djukic-Dejanovic.

In 2021, absolute child poverty was 10.6% and it is expected to increase. Even in the most modest scenario, in 2022 child poverty is expected to have increased to 13.8%. This means an additional almost 28,000 children living below the absolute poverty line.

This requires an urgent response.

Children and families need poverty targeted financial assistance, but they also need efficient social services to support their health and educational well-being, to prevent and protect from violence and neglect. Serbia invested a lot in establishing social services and piloting new successful models over the past years. Now is the time for the next step that will bring the country’s prosperity to a new level – the step to ensure that all the children, across Serbia, have access to the services needed for their development.

A good opportunity is the Child Guarantee – an EU tool that Serbia can access. It combats exclusion and poverty of children by creating free or affordable quality services for all children. UNICEF has been selected as a partner of choice for the EC for testing the Child Guarantee in 7 MS. In addition, 2 pre-accession countries have joined them. The Child Guarantee proposes guaranteed access of all children to a set of the following five key services: Early childhood education and care; Education; Health care; Nutrition; and Housing.

Investing in children today will shape the world we will live in tomorrow. Therefore, UNICEF stands ready to support the Government and all stakeholders today to implement smart and efficient decisions with resources available that will build a strong foundation for long-term prosperity in Serbia.

Thank you.

Media contacts

Jadranka Milanovic
Communication Officer
Tel: + 381 11 3602 104
Tel: +381 63 336 283


Prisutni smo u više od 190 zemalja i teritorija, a kroz sve što radimo promovišemo prava i dobrobit dece, posebno one koja su najugroženija i isključena. U potpunosti se finansiramo od dobrovoljnih priloga pojedinaca, država i vlada, fondacija i kompanija.

Pratite UNICEF Srbija na: Facebook-uTwitter-uYouTube-uInstagram-u i LinkedIn-u.