Anticipating the Sustainable Development Goals: UNICEF Executive Board … – UNICEF (press release)

Anticipating the Sustainable Development Goals: UNICEF Executive Board discusses funding and programming

WATCH: UNICEF Executive Board’s second regular session of 2015

By Kristin Taylor

NEW YORK, United States of America, 10 September 2015 – The UNICEF Executive Board today closed its second regular session of 2015. The session was held at a pivotal moment for international development. Later this month, during the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, world leaders are expected to adopt the set of goals that will guide global development efforts over the next 15 years.


© UNICEF/NYHQ2015-2112/Nesbitt

President of the 2015 UNICEF Executive Board and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi (fourth from left) opens the second regular session of the 2015 UNICEF Executive Board, at United Nations Headquarters, on 8 September 2015.

Through advocacy for children in international forums over the past months and years, particularly through active participation in the drafting sessions ahead of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development this past July, UNICEF Member States have made tremendous efforts to ensure that children are at the heart of the goals and its financing.

“[T]he SDGs reflect the fact that an investment in children is an investment in their ability to sustain development tomorrow and build our common future,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on Tuesday, as he referred to the Sustainable Development Goals during his opening remarks to the Board. “Because how can they do so tomorrow if we fail them today? If they lack an education? If they go hungry or without basic sanitation or medical care? If they view their world through a lens of mistrust and hopelessness?”

The second regular session is the final of three Executive Board sessions that are convened by UNICEF each year. During the session, 20 new country programmes were approved by the Board, from all seven of the regions in which UNICEF has programmes of cooperation with national governments. According to UNICEF Executive Board President H.E. Ms. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, the new programme cycles “will allow millions of children … to secure their rights to education, to health care, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene and protection, and our collective efforts on behalf of children – particularly those who are the most vulnerable – can continue on a sustained basis.”

The decision in which the new country programme documents were approved is but one of 16 decisions adopted by the Board in 2015 to guide UNICEF’s programmes and policies, to foster and broaden its partnerships, to strengthen its procurement and emergency response capacity and to make the organization more fit for purpose.

Financing the UNICEF Strategic Plan

The Executive Board regularly reviews the implementation and financing of the UNICEF Strategic Plan 2014-2017 – the blueprint for the organization’s work over the four-year period.


© UNICEF/NYHQ2015-2113/Nesbitt

President of the 2015 UNICEF Executive Board Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi gives opening remarks at the second regular session of the 2015 UNICEF Executive Board.

During the second regular session, the Board adopted a decision on funding issues related to the Strategic Plan: on updated financial estimates, and a structured dialogue on financing the results of the Plan. The decision recognizes UNICEF’s efforts to broaden its funding base and mobilize additional resources, and notes challenges such as currency fluctuations that limit UNICEF’s ability to predict the level of funds it needs for its operations while maintaining a prudent liquidity requirement, and burgeoning humanitarian crises, which place heavy demands on the organization’s resources.

The decision also endorsed UNICEF’s planned financial estimates for a three-year period, which will facilitate the allocation of regular resources for the large number of new country programmes that are expected to be presented for approval by the Board in 2016.

During the session, the critical importance of having sufficient regular resources and thematic funds was highlighted as impacting UNICEF’s ability to carry out its mandate. Regular resources – what President Lodhi referred to in her opening remarks as the “backbone of UNICEF’s funding” – give UNICEF the flexibility to direct funds where they are most urgently needed.

Helping vulnerable families through cash transfers

Board members were presented with a synthesis report of the findings of evaluations conducted between 2010-2014 on cash transfers as a social protection intervention. As part of its work on social inclusion. UNICEF supports government-led cash transfer programmes, which provide vulnerable families with urgently needed income and help to redress poverty and deprivation.

The evaluation synthesis found that offering even modest support to vulnerable families and individuals often brought about significant results. Results showed that the funds contributed to improvements in recipients’ quality of life, their financial resilience in the face of setbacks, their ability to invest in the core economic activity of their household, and their creditworthiness. There were also reports of positive social-psychological outcomes among recipients.

UNICEF is incorporating the lessons learned in its programming strategies, and will use the findings of the evaluations, combined with external studies, to make the case for additional investments in child-sensitive social protection.

Preparing for the dawn of the SDGs

By learning from its past experience, and guided by the Executive Board, UNICEF will continue to hone the ways in which its mandate to advocate for the protection of the rights of children can be most effectively translated into concrete actions and sustainable results for all children.


© UNICEF/NYHQ2015-2116/Nesbitt

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake speaks at the second regular session of the 2015 UNICEF Executive Board.

However, this requires a recognition of the many stark challenges affecting children and families, as well as the limitations of current development approaches. As an example, the division between ‘development’ and ‘humanitarian’ work was cited by Mr. Lake in his opening remarks. “The divide we create between the two is arbitrary,” he said, “because, on the ground, there is no clear dividing line between them. After a disaster, development progress may continue in some areas of a society while being set back in others. And just as a lack of development can cause and exacerbate conflicts and natural disasters, so disasters and conflicts can halt and even reverse development progress. Strong development will reduce the likelihood of future crises – and immediate humanitarian action in the midst of a disaster can be an opening to ‘build back better’ and advance development.”

Mr. Lake went on to outline a number of the challenges the world faces as the SDGs are ushered in – the effects of climate change and natural disasters, an increasing number of conflicts and a growing migrant and refugee crisis. “We cannot reach the Sustainable Development Goals without reaching the millions of children living in the midst of humanitarian emergencies. Period. The SDGs depend on this,” Mr. Lake said.

There was added recognition that achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals will require efforts and that all must do their part. As President Lodhi remarked, “It is up to all of us – Governments, Executive Board members, United Nations organizations, civil society, the private sector, local communities and children themselves – to make sure this agenda is implemented fully and on schedule.”


<!– Updated 11 September 2015 –>