Joint Nordic Statement at UNICEF Executive Board Annual Session 2020
UNICEF Executive Board, June 29 2020
Nordic Statement in response to ED Fore’s opening remarks
Thank you, Madame President, for giving me the floor and thank you to the Executive Director for your inspiring words. I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic Countries; Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and my own country Sweden.
2020 marks the start of the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs. Over the past months, this ambition has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, which poses not only a global health disaster, but also a global humanitarian and development crisis like no other, with severe impact on particularly women and children.
The pandemic underscores the paramount importance of collaborative efforts and multilateral responses to address the crisis. A more integrated, coherent, efficient and results-driven UN presence on the ground, led by the empowered UN Resident Coordinators, plays an important part in ensuring that countries recover better, greener and more equal from the current crisis. We encourage UNICEF to show leadership at country level and to continue to work closely with sister agencies.
The response of the UN system to the COVID-19 crisis has been swift and well-coordinated. We would like to thank UNICEF for its unwavering commitment to supporting women and children around the globe - and not only as a response to the pandemic. The results UNICEF has achieved over the past year - as the midterm review bears witness to - are life changing for millions of children around the world.
At the same time, despite these impressive results, this is no time for complacency. While we see progress on some fronts, we also see an erosion of some gains.
[Gender and SRHR]
For instance, 2019 concluded a deadly decade for children in conflict, with more than 170,000 grave violations against children, including sexual- and gender-based violence, which continues to be vastly underreported.
5.5 mio. more girls than boys are out of school today and progress for gender equality in education remains uneven, particularly in learning outcomes. Education is fundamental for human, social, and economic development and a key element to achieving lasting peace and sustainable development. Therefore, we welcome that UNICEF has identified the learning crisis as a key area for acceleration, particularly for marginalized girls.
Girls remain far more vulnerable to HIV. In this light, we welcome UNICEFs decision to increase investments in women and girls’ health. We support UNICEF and partner countries in their efforts towards ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health services and supporting women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights. A vital component in this regard is comprehensive sexuality education. We expect UNICEF like all of the UN family, to take guidance from the normative frameworks on human rights and development that UN member states adopt in the General Assembly and ECOSOC.
Finally, we welcome that UNICEF is planning to develop a new ambitious Gender Policy and Gender Action Plan, focusing on structural barriers and transformative actions, in line with recommendations by the evaluation team. The Nordic countries stand ready to assist. In a revised Plan and policy, it is paramount to ensure gender mainstreaming in both the humanitarian assistance and in the development programmes.
We therefore also welcome an increased focus on the most vulnerable, including women and girls in UNICEFs humanitarian response. Children, and particularly girls continue to be disproportionately affected by conflict and humanitarian emergencies, not least in regard to sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices.
Let me conclude by highlighting, that flexible and predictable funding is a corner stone in UNICEFs ability to deliver on its mandate. The declining proportion of regular resources as part of UNICEF's total income is a matter of concern. Hence, we encourage Member States and UNICEF to find best practices to increase flexibility and predictability of funding and multi-year commitments.
Thank you Madame President.