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Joint Statement at Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS First Regular Session 2021 delivered by H.E. PR Jörundur Valtýsson

Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS

First Regular Session 2021

UNFPA Segment – statement by the executive director

1 – 4 February 2021

Statement delivered by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson,

Permanent Representative of Iceland

Thank you, Madam/Mr President,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and my own country, Iceland.

I would like to begin by thanking Dr Natalia Kanem for her excellent presentation and will focus our intervention on the next strategic plan as well as UNFPA’s COVID-19 response.

Madam/Mr President,

While the pandemic and pandemic-related restrictions, such as lockdowns and supply chain disruptions, have negatively impacted human development, it is clear that UNFPA has been well positioned to respond. We commend UNFPA for its agile and impactful response and have just a few questions:

First. Noting the commitments of the Funding Compact and encouraging member states – that are in position to do so – to consider contributing to UNFPA’s core resources, how have these core or unrestricted resources helped UNFPA in its COVID-19 response?

And second. How have you ensured continuity of supplies during the pandemic?

Madam/Mr. President,

In the current context, where we are witnessing the possibility of a reversal on key development indicators, the development of an ambitious and focused Strategic Plan is more important than ever. We must do all we can to protect the hard-won gains already made on sexual and reproductive health and rights and accelerate progress in achieving the SDGs. UNFPA’s leadership role on this will be critical.

We appreciate the background note on the Strategic Plan and use this opportunity to thank UNFPA for the consultative and inclusive approach taken in the development of the plan. The note contains some excellent questions for our consideration, and allow me to highlight a few points:

Our joint position is that the new strategic plan must be human rights-based, focused on results and aligned with the SDGs. Particular attention must be given to the most vulnerable groups and those who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence.

It must strengthen its focus on comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. Safeguarding UNFPA’s normative and global role is for us of utmost importance.

We also encourage you to include lessons learnt from the pandemic in the development of the plan, including when it comes to UNFPA’s role in supporting countries to strengthen the resilience of their health systems toward achieving Universal Health Coverage as well as last mile delivery of health supplies.

The plan should also have a strategic focus on leaving no one behind, which is critical to reaching the most vulnerable first, including persons with disabilities. Here, quality and disaggregated data is key. Overall, we believe UNFPA is on strong footing in this regard, including through census data, and encourage you to keep a strong focus on achieving scale and impact in this aspect of your work.

UNFPA has a growing role in humanitarian action, which we look forward to seeing clearly reflected in the new plan, including its gender advisory role in acute crises and supporting preparedness and crisis response in protracted settings. UNFPA’s coordination role on gender-based violence in these settings must also be clearly articulated.

To further guide our input for the next step of the strategic plan development, we would like to ask:

How UNFPA will further grow its partnerships with key actors, including International Financial Institutions?

Mr./Madam President,

Let me conclude by reiterating our support for UNFPA and take the opportunity to give our heartfelt thanks to the frontline workers who continue to deliver life-saving services during the pandemic, ensuring that women and girls can access safe, quality healthcare services and psychosocial support.

Thank you.


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