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Joint Nordic Statement at UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board Annual Session 2020

UNFPA Segment, 5 June 2020 - Item 13, Annual Report of the Executive Director
Statement by the Nordic Countries, delivered by Ambassador Jörundur Valtýsson, Permanent Representative of Iceland to the UN

Mr. President, Madame Executive Director, 

I make this joint statement on behalf of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and my own country Iceland.

The Nordic countries thank UNFPA for their quick adaptation and response to the COVID-19 crisis. Today’s situation has underscored how crucial adequate funding is for ensuring continuity in UNFPA activities and timely delivery of its programmes.

In particular, predictable core funding enables UNFPA to deliver on its mandate. Through core resources, UNFPA can also efficiently respond to new, unforeseen challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Nordic countries, jointly the biggest core contributors to UNFPA, call on all Member States to provide sustainable and predictable funding to UNFPA - in accordance with our joint commitments framed in the Funding Compact. 

Mr. President,

We are pleased with the good results reported in the mid-term review of the UNFPA strategic plan. We welcome increased focus on climate change in the future activities of UNFPA. Climate change is a threat to sustainable development, including fulfilment of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. Therefore, we look forward to the forthcoming UNFPA climate-change strategy.

We also value that UNFPA is making innovation a core programme strategy and taking a more outward-looking approach on innovation. The current pressing challenges highlight the need for new partnerships and innovations, such as telemedicine and other inclusive digital developments, all within national health systems. We stress the importance of close collaboration and alignment with the UN’s system-wide innovation agenda as UNFPA embarks on this new path.

In this exceptional time, it is particularly important to find balance between UNFPA key functions and the need to respond to emerging challenges. While a strengthened focus on responding to emerging challenges and opportunities is both needed and welcome, we strongly encourage UNFPA to maintain the focus on the core of their mandate, which also constitutes UNFPA’s comparative advantage.

The Nordic countries recognize and welcome the UNFPA initiatives in gender-based violence prevention and response during the pandemic. In humanitarian settings, UNFPA’s work addressing sexual and gender-based violence, and providing services to survivors of such violence, is fundamental. Furthermore, access to quality sexual and reproductive health services in humanitarian and fragile contexts is vitally important. Safeguarding UNFPA’s normative and global role is for us of utmost importance in this regard.

Respecting, protecting and enforcing women and girls’ rights is essential to reaching those furthest behind. We encourage further inclusion of the rights and needs of persons with disabilities in all UNFPA activities. In this context, we would like to highlight implementation of the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy, as well as the IASC Guidelines on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.

Youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education are important for boys and girls but, more so, contribute to adolescent girls’ school attendance and active participation in society, and are thus vital for realization of their rights.

Finally, we encourage UNFPA to continuously focus on ensuring follow-up to the commitments made by states, private sector and civil society to accelerate the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action and to reach UNFPA’s three transformative results. This includes voluntary commitments made, not least given that they were commitments made to implement a UN-mandated Programme of Action, namely the ICPD Programme of Action.

In closing, we would like to thank the Executive Director and UNFPA staff all over the world for their tireless and meaningful work towards achieving the three transformative results and ensuring realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.

Thank you.


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