Closing Statement of the President of the Executive Board of UNICEF, H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN, UNICEF Executive Board Annual Session, 15 June 2016
Distinguished Delegates, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now at the end of two and a half days of rich and stimulating discussions on several issues of significant import to UNICEF and the children we serve, both today as well as in the coming years.
I believe that we can consider this to have been a very successful session.
The strong spirit of collaboration among the regional groups resulted in the adoption by the Board of six decisions spanning programmes, financial and budgetary issues, audit and evaluation.
Of particular note was the presentation on the Report on the midterm review of the UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2014-2017. This showed that UNICEF is both a proactive, can-do organization, as well as one that is reflective, and that is firmly guided by data and evidence, best practices and lessons learned. I am confident that UNICEF will, with support from the Board, continue to fine-tune its programmes and approaches over the next two years of the Plan to adequately reflect the evolving global context, to consolidate the gains made and to address the remaining gaps that continue to deprive children of adequate health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, protection and participation in society.
The presentation on the midterm review of the integrated budget highlighted the improved alignment between resources and the Strategic Plan, which has allowed UNICEF to have a clearer focus on results. The continuing decline in regular resources – the flexible funds that provide the foundation for UNICEF’s programmes – is also noted with concern, as are the organization’s efforts to secure a more diversified funding base and to restructure its financing. I look forward to this Friday’s informal consultation on Financing the UNICEF Strategic Plan, where our Board will begin an exchange of ideas with the secretariat in this regard.
As we look towards the 2016 second regular session, we have much additional work ahead of us. The Board will consider 25 country programme documents that will be presented for consideration and adoption. These unprecedented numbers of country programme documents originate from countries that are classified as both low and high income, and come from six of the seven regions where UNICEF operates.
UNICEF recognizes – as do all of us – that there are pockets of deprivation in every society, rich and poor alike, and that millions of children are still being left behind. At the second regular session, we will also receive an update on UNICEF’s experience in countries that are transitioning to high-income status. We will consider the financial and policy issues relevant to UNICEF’s work in these contexts, and learn how the organization is further positioning itself to address needs and to leverage opportunities for children.
The issue of “cost recovery”, another topic that has resonance across several UN agencies, will also be reviewed. We look forward to receiving an update on the joint external, independent assessment of the current cost-recovery methodology applied by UNDP, UNFPA, UN-Women and UNICEF. This will facilitate increased understanding of its application by the Executive Board as UNICEF begins to develop its 2018-2021 integrated budget.
Distinguished delegates, I would once again like to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Justin Forsyth, the new Deputy Executive Director (Partnerships), who recently joined the UNICEF senior management team. I thank Ms. Geeta Rao Gupta, the outgoing Deputy Executive Director (Programmes) for her excellent work with the Executive Board over the past five years, and for her warmth and collaboration with the current Bureau since the start of this year.
I am also gratified to learn of the other UNICEF leaders who will be taking up new responsibilities. I am fully confident that these shifts will further deepen the body of talent and expertise at the pinnacle of the organization, and will provide a further impetus to the organization’s efforts to reflect the 2030 Agenda in its work to achieve sustainable results for children.
On behalf of the Bureau, I would like to express my sincere thanks to all of the delegations for their high-quality presentations, interventions and questions and their constructive engagement during the negotiations of the draft decisions.
I wish to thank the Vice-Presidents of the Board, namely the Representatives of Libya, Antigua and Barbuda, Japan and Nepal, for helping me to manage this session. I am grateful for their collaboration and friendship.
I am grateful to the facilitators for their steady efforts in bringing the negotiations on the draft decisions to a timely and successful conclusion.
The United Nations interpreters, translators and conference officers have been integral to the session’s success. I thank them for their usual professionalism and kind support.
I also take this opportunity to commend all the UNICEF staff – including the members of the teams that have just been recognized by Mr. Lake and the entire the organization, as well as those working in other difficult situations – the men and women providing life-saving assistance in places of escalating or seemingly ever-present conflict;
– the staff who participate in the response to earthquakes and droughts;
– the dedicated members who help to coordinate delivery of supplies and medicines; work with UNICEF’s partners to develop innovations; or help to shape policies and practices for the well-being of children and families.
Finally, I would like to thank the Secretary, Mr. Nicolas Pron, and the staff of the Office of the Secretary, for once again delivering excellent support that facilitated the seamless and efficient running of the session.
I wish you a fond farewell as you return to your capitals, and look forward to continued close and positive collaboration with you all in the coming months as, through our efforts, we continue make real, lasting and positive changes for all children.
It has been a great pleasure to work with you all. I thank you.