(Check against delivery)
Allow me first of all to thank the Executive Director for his statement and for spelling out clearly what UNICEF has achieved, but also the many complex obstacles that the global community needs to solve together if we are to see sustainable improvement for children. Norway remains committed to providing all the support you and your staff need to address the many challenges facing children and youth everyday all over the world.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank through you Deputy Executive Director, Saad Houry, for his dedication to bettering the lives of children and his steadfast commitment to making sure that UNICEF remains a strong and forceful global organization. We would also like to warmly welcome Geeta Rao Gupta and look forward to collaborating closely with Ms. Rao Gupta in the future.
Norway would also like to thank UNICEF staff here at Headquarters and in the field for their continued tireless efforts every day.
As you know Norway is highly engaged in the Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health and have been in a good position to observe UNICEF’s strong engagement both in developing the strategy, but also now in the implementing phase. We encourage all Member States to place stronger emphasis on securing and building up sustainable and adequate health care services for women and children. This is not only essential if we are to see improvements in the Millennium Development Goals, but more importantly it is a human right to have access to basic health services.
The importance of establishing health care services is further illustrated by the growing portion of adolescents and children living with HIV.
The last couple of weeks we have witnessed some very important steps being taken. At the recent High-level Meeting on HIV here in New York, Member States committed to work towards the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015 and substantially reducing AIDS-related maternal deaths.
In support of this goal, World leaders also launched the “Global Plan towards eliminating new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive”. A realistic and achievable plan that is driven by the most affected countries.
We further welcome the passing of UN Security Council resolution on 7 June which recognizes that the devastating effects of HIV are compounded in conflict and post-conflict settings.
Norway will continue to work together with UNICEF and other partners in order to ensure that we target the most vulnerable children and mothers with life saving treatments and prevention measures, and that we achieve the four goals that are the heart of UNICEF’s Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS campaign:
- Prevent maternal to child transmission of HIV.
- Provide better pediatric care and treatment.
- Prevent new HIV infections in adolescents and young people.
- Protect and support all children affected by HIV.
Integration and coordination between key areas such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, maternal and child health, tuberculosis services and HIV services must be ensured. Measures must be implemented in such a way as to ensure the optimal delivery of health services, and effective support systems must be established in the local community. The Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health recognizes this need and provides an excellent basis for our joint efforts.
Norway would like to congratulate UNICEF for making public the differences in prices it pays drug companies for vaccines and in this way making sure that the market is as transparent as possible, providing lower prices and ultimately saving more lives. Well done!!
Another issue to which Norway and UNICEF are highly committed is making sure children all over the world receive quality education. The global community has come a long way, but there are still many challenges left. Norway is looking forward to discussing these issues at the ECOSOC high-level meeting on education in July.
If we are to reach the MDGs with equity, greater focus needs to be placed on the most vulnerable and marginalized. More than 40per cent of the out of school children live in countries affected by conflict. Norway has made a decision to prioritize education in fragile states and to include education as part of humanitarian response, and we would like to encourage other donors to prioritize the support to education in emergencies.
Further, girl’s education is still top priority for Norway. Progress has been made in reducing gender disparities and gender parity has been improved globally. However, gender parity in school is only the initial step towards gender equality. In southern and eastern Africa studies show that few changes have been made from 2000 to 2007 in reducing differences in learning outcomes between boys and girls. We would therefore recommend that national education strategies and plans have concrete measures to address socio-cultural barriers that lead to equality not only when it comes to access, but also other issues such as learning outcomes and protection.
Before concluding, a few comments to this year’s report. It is getting better. The report gives a clear picture of UNICEF’s activities as well as results achieved within the different focus areas of the strategic plan. It is also commendable that the report describes innovative initiatives such as the ‘Equity approach’ and the Organization’s humanitarian efforts and challenges there within.
Norway also notes that UNICEF is strengthening its focus on capacity building efforts as well as more targeted and strategic advocacy work. This is welcomed, but we would like to see the report also contain an analysis of the degree of sustainable results from these types of efforts.
Compared to last year’s report certain improvements can be detected; such as greater inclusion of analysis of results and data. The report also gives a clearer picture of development over time and gives the reader a better picture of development results at the global level within the five focus areas.
Despite these positive improvements there are still areas that need to be adjusted. These entail continued work to show UNICEF’s contribution to achieved results at the national and global level and inclusion of lessons learned and future directions (this was included in last year’s report). In addition, the report needs to be made easier to read against the strategic plan, meaning the reader needs to know whether the achieved results reported on are correlated with the Organization’s planned results. A variation in results reporting quality is also detected between the different focus areas. A description of risk assessment and risk mitigation should be lifted in the report.
Another area that we would like to be more visible in the report is gender equality. We hope that with the newly established gender marker we will see a difference in reporting in the future.
Many of the above mentioned concerns are to a large degree due to a results framework that needs to be improved, and therefore many of the needed improvements mentioned above cannot be fully achieved until a new results framework is in place in 2014.
It is therefore vital that UNICEF, as pointed out in last year’s decision, starts working on the new strategic plan and results framework as soon as possible,.
We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with UNICEF and to work together to improve the lives of children all over the world in the year to come.