Closing remarks by H.E. Mr Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia at the Joint Meeting of Executive Boards of UN Funds and Programs, 3 June 2016
2016 Joint Meeting of the Executive Boards of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS, UNICEF,
UN-Women and WFP, 3 June 2016
“Working in fragile contexts, inclusive of middle-income countries”
Mr. Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Estonia
Distinguished Delegates, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This morning’s presentations and discussions have clearly demonstrated the critical need for the United Nations entities to continue our joint efforts in order to address the drivers and the consequences of fragility.
Addressing fragility will be central to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. The 2030 Agenda provides the framework required to foster and nurture an integrated approach to implementing the obligations of the development, humanitarian, security and climate change agendas.
Today, there is a need to move beyond our joint understanding of what is required in order to prioritize and protect the millions of people living in fragile situations. Progressing past discussions and agreements on paper, we must now take concrete actions that yield positive results over the long term.
There is no doubt that this work will be challenging: Fragile states and economies have lagged behind in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, with recent trends pointing to a growing concentration of absolute poverty in fragile situations. In this context, we must remember that people, not countries, live in fragile circumstances. We have a moral imperative to make all efforts to prevent people from falling into such situations of vulnerability, while also responding to and supporting the communities, families and children already deprived of the basic goods and services and of the safety and security that are their right.
And here, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would emphasize our shared obligation to protect the millions of children around world who live in fragile contexts. Our duty to make sure that all children – no matter the environment in which they live – can go to school and learn; can freely play outside their homes; and can have sufficient clean water and nutritious food;…that their safety and welfare is promoted at all times, especially during humanitarian emergencies and other crises.
We should take into account the multiple definitions of fragility, which has many faces and appears in all areas of the globe. We must move past the traditional understanding of “fragility” as encompassing only those States characterized by enduring conflict to embrace a broader definition of the term, which captures the diversity of risks and vulnerabilities faced by all peoples.
It is incumbent on us all, as representatives of Governments and the United Nations, as duty-bearers, to promote analyses of the multiple hazards faced by the most vulnerable communities, and to outline clear actions to prevent and mitigate such risks.
We must do all that we can together so that -- in island nations rising sea levels and consequent flooding do not force people to leave their homes and lands; -- so that the next outbreak of the Ebola or Zika virus does not cripple inadequate or strained health systems in low- and middle-income countries; -- so that airstrikes and indiscriminate bombings in conflict-affected areas do not continue to take lives, uproot generations and drive families deeper into deprivation and despair.
We see fragility:
· In middle-income countries like Ecuador, where an April 2016 earthquake wreaked devastating effects on the population, with lives lost, water systems destroyed, health centres affected, schools and buildings damaged, and thousands forced to live in shelters.
· In conflict-affected countries like South Sudan, where children’s futures have been grossly undermined by the fighting, where there is chronic, severe insecurity and widespread malnutrition – and where the need for peace, security and education is at a premium.
We have heard this morning of the various ways in which fragility may be addressed, among them by breaking down the silos between humanitarian and development efforts; strengthening institutions that provide social protection; seeking ways how UN can better work together to address fragility; improving the predictability and flexibility of funding and funding mechanisms; promoting investment by the private sector; and investing in critical infrastructure.
Central to our efforts to move from addressing fragility to building resilience should be to consider, promote and leverage the voice of the communities that are bearing the brunt of fragility. By focusing on children, especially girls, by actively seeking and considering their views and by leveraging their energy and optimism, the international community can provide them with assurances that it is investing in solutions that will strengthen the foundation of their future.
Reducing disparities and inequities is also key. Using as a starting point the recognition that pockets of deprivation can be found in every country, low-, middle- and high-income alike, our efforts can then pinpoint those persons who are most in need.
During this afternoon’s segment on ‘Big data and the Sustainable Development Goals’, we will likely hear several speakers refer to the need to increase access to high quality disaggregated data, which will be critical to identifying these groups who have been left behind.
If used effectively, ‘big data’ promises powerful outcomes in achievement of the Goals: providing real-time information, which can inform expedited responses and solutions; helping to close gender gaps by drilling down to the details of how women and girls in every society are denied access, participation and protection; and addressing inequalities, so that the most vulnerable groups are identified and reached by interventions, and their progress is monitored.
Distinguished Delegates, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we look over the horizon of the next 15 years, my hope is that our Governments, our entities and the wider family of the United Nations will continue to act on our commitments to address the greatest global challenges and to advance our collective agenda: that of ensuring a peaceful, stable and inclusive future for us all. We need to support the most vulnerable people in most fragile contexts first, especially children, to give them a fair chance in life to shape their own futures.