Statement by the Nordic Countries at the Annual Session 2021 of the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS, June 10 2021, Item 12, Annual Report of the Executive Director of UNFPA

Statement by the Nordic Countries at the Annual Session 2021 of the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS, June 10 2021, Item 12, Annual Report of the Executive Director of UNFPA

Read the Nordic Statement delivered by H.E. Ms. Miia Rainne, Deputy Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations

Madame President,

I am delivering this statement on behalf of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country Finland.

We welcome the annual report of the Executive Director, providing valuable facts and analysis with regard to progress and performance, made under the Strategic Framework 2018-2021, as well including the impacts of COVID-19 on achieving the outcomes of the current Strategic Plan.

UNFPA has played a key role at all levels in responding to the pandemic, and ensuring the continuity of SRH-services, addressing gender-based violence and harmful practices; and safeguarding the supply of contraceptives and other reproductive health commodities.

We thank UNFPA for their quick adaptation and response.

The COVID -19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable, in particular on women, youth, children and persons with disabilities. The response and road to recovery must follow a human-rights based approach; include the voices of marginalised groups; highlight adaptive programming and universal health coverage that leaves no one behind.   

The pandemic has shown just how relevant and vital UNFPA’s mandate is, and how devastating the consequences can be when access to sexual and reproductive health and rights is undermined. It is commendable that the report of the Executive Director highlights a number of important lessons learned, including organizational effectiveness and efficiency, which will be critical to consider in the next Strategic Plan.

Equally important is to ensure that recommendations by the OIAS for improved program management, monitoring and reporting are adequately addressed when developing the new strategic plan. This includes a number of critical observations in the two evaluation reports being considered at this annual session, in particular the report on UNPFA’s support to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

We appreciate UNFPA’s focus on high quality-disaggregated data and evidence as a basis for decision-making and tailor-made solutions, which remain crucial in ensuring an inclusive and gender-transformative global COVID-19 response.

The first three years of implementing the UNFPA strategic plan, 2018-2021, saw substantial progress. However, unless progress accelerates, the world will be unable to achieve the three transformative results by 2030.

Madame President,

A strong vision fully rooted in the respect for human rights and the full concept of SRHR  must guide our future planning and strategic considerations, and continued focus on the three zeros in the next Strategic Plan is the right way forward.

In this respect, the Nordic countries would like to draw your attention to four key issues  going forward:

Firstly, responses to underlying conditions and environments that cause vulnerability particularly for women and girls, must be enhanced.

We commend UNFPA for having increased their reach of the most marginalized women and girls. Further steps must be taken to address the many barriers and structures that face the most vulnerable, not least women and girls with disabilities in humanitarian contexts. Stronger preventive gender-based violence efforts in cooperation with relevant partners are needed.

Secondly, safeguarding UNFPA’s normative role is of great importance to the Nordic countries. We would like to hear how the monitoring of this role can be improved.

Thirdly, there needs to be further recognition of young people, their potential and drive to be the champions of achieving sustainable development goals. How do you plan to mobilise youth in UNFPA’s work more systematically including as agents for bridging the digital divide?

Fourthly, COVID-19 has underscored how crucial adequate and flexible core funding is for ensuring continuity in UNFPA activities and timely delivery of its programmes. The Nordic countries, jointly the biggest core contributors to UNFPA, call on all Member States to provide sustainable and predictable funding to UNFPA.

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 the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.

Thank you.