UNFPA and Emerging Development Agenda

1 February 2012
Author: UNFPA

Statement of UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin at the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board First Regular Session 2012
Mr. President,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me begin by wishing everyone a happy New Year 2012.

My colleagues and I extend a warm welcome to you, Ambassador Grunditz, as the new President, and to all members of the Bureau: Mr. Tariq Iziraren of Morocco, Ambassador Yusra Khan of Indonesia, Ms. Candida Novak Hornakova of the Czech Republic, and Mr. Eduardo Porretti of Argentina.

Let me also express our deep appreciation and thanks to Ambassador Edita Hrda of the Czech Republic and the Vice-Presidents for their excellent leadership and support over the past year.

Highlights of 2011

Before I go any further, I would like to take you through some of the last year’s highlights.

Mr. President,

What you just saw speaks to the many accomplishments of UNFPA, and I must say that my first year as the Executive Director was very gratifying professionally and personally.

I had several opportunities to highlight the importance of UNFPA’s mandate.

At the United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries, we were successful in securing recognition for the need to invest in education and health, especially for adolescent girls, and to decrease maternal mortality and meet unmet need for family planning.

At the high-level meeting on HIV and AIDS, I made the case for an integrated approach in the delivery of sexual and reproductive health and further focus on preventing new infections and sexual violence.

And, at the 17th African Union Summit in Equatorial Guinea, I drew attention to the urgent need to invest in youth education and empowerment and their reproductive health and rights.

I travelled to the Horn of Africa to see how we can best ensure that the health and dignity of women and youth are not forgotten in crisis situations and transitions.

To further strengthen our capacity in humanitarian response, we developed a new strategy for countries in fragile situations, which is already being put into practice on the ground, for example, in Libya, where we are now also establishing an office to provide technical support to the Government and develop the capacity of emerging civil society organizations.

Promoting the Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health was a personal priority for me. I travelled to Afghanistan and was pleased to join the Secretary-General on his missions to Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. We also met with Health Ministers of many high-burden countries here in New York to ensure that we can continue to drive action on the ground.

With partners, UNFPA led efforts to highlight the importance of skilled health workers, including through the first ever State of the World’s Midwifery Report.

Another critical part of improving women's and children's health is ensuring access to contraceptives and medical supplies. With strong support from donors, UNFPA’s Global Programme to Enhance Reproductive Health Commodity Security has been able to reduce stock-outs and strengthen national policies, increase budget lines and ensure that we reach women in an equitable manner.

These efforts mean that more couples can use modern contraception. For example, Niger achieved a 10 percent increase in contraceptive prevalence rate and a no-stock out rate of 99 percent. Madagascar reported a 5 percent drop in the unmet need for family planning. Multi-media campaigns in Burkina Faso are fueling greater demand for family planning, and Lao People's Democratic Republic and Mongolia are improving community-based distribution systems.

A related innovation is UNFPA’s new procurement service – AccessRH – that reduces delivery times and provides partners with product catalogues, prices and up-to-date information on over $1.6 billion worth of contraceptive orders placed by UNFPA and others. As part of the renewed focus on family planning and meeting the unmet need, these efforts bring greater transparency to the reproductive health supply chain and offer valuable information that all our partners can utilize.

Mr. President,

Three months ago the world’s population reached 7 billion, and UNFPA was able to use the milestone as a strategic platform to promote the social dimension of sustainable development, with the focus on empowering women and young people, especially adolescent girls.

Through the 7 Billion Actions campaign, we were able to build new partnerships, particularly with the private sector, and raise awareness of global challenges and opportunities that are interlinked and touch us all.

Another highlight for me and the organization was to consolidate our strategic direction and chart the way to further improve effectiveness, efficiency and accountability, and to achieve even stronger results. We appreciate the valuable contributions and support of the Executive Board in this process.

To build on the gains of the year, and to ensure a coherent organizational commitment to the strategy, I brought together all UNFPA Country Representatives and senior managers for a three-day meeting at the end of the year. The meeting came out with a set of concrete commitments to action by all Country Representatives, which will drive our Strategic Plan.

I want to thank all Board members for the support you have extended to me during my first year. I look forward to continuing to work together in full transparency and building on our mutual trust.

UNFPA and the new development agenda

Mr. President,

Last week I was in Davos attending the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, and I was pleased to see that world leaders have become more conscious about the importance of issues related to young people and women.

It was also clear that development models based on multi-lateral partnerships, which include several stakeholders from different sectors, are the way forward.

As an example, we launched a new partnership with Intel to strengthen the skills of health workers through open source software, technical assistance and training. This is a good example of a new business model and part of UNFPA’s overall efforts to strengthen collaboration with the private sector.

The Busan high-level conference on aid effectiveness advanced the commitment to South-South cooperation, and UNFPA is at the forefront in convening these partnerships to accelerate nationally owned and led development.

Mr. President,

The next three years are critical for UNFPA, as they are for the global development agenda.

This June, in Rio de Janeiro, the world community seeks renewed political commitment and a new push for sustainable development.

We at UNFPA continue to emphasize that people and the principle of equity must be kept at the centre of sustainable development. It means recognizing the need to invest in women and young people and promoting human rights. It means increasing equity in order to build a world of opportunity for all.

As the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated when he addressed the General Assembly last September: ”Development is not sustainable unless it is equitable and serves all people.”

At the core of equity and people-centered development is the visionary ICPD agenda, which the world agreed to in 1994 and is under review for its follow up beyond 2014.

ICPD is what defines UNFPA, and we must ensure, working with you, that the ICPD beyond 2014 review is carried out in a way that builds even greater support for fully implementing the Programme of Action and provides critical inputs for the global development agenda beyond 2015.

The world has changed since 1994, but the central issues of the ICPD agenda – human rights, sexual and reproductive health, population and gender – are as relevant today to the global development agenda as they were two decades ago.

These are the central issues of equitable development that serves all people.

I encourage all Member States to promote the goals of the ICPD agenda and the social aspect of sustainable development as we approach the Rio conference this year and seek to meet the targets of the Millennium Development Goals, and as we define the development agenda beyond 2015.

Priorities for 2012

Mr. President,

The unfinished development agenda and the urgency to accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals guide the priorities of UNFPA’s work in 2012.

I was very pleased that, in presenting his five-year Action Agenda, the Secretary-General emphasized "working with and for women and young people" as one of the five "generational opportunities" that are critical for change. He also underlined the importance of programmes promoting human rights, education and reproductive health.

Implementing the Strategic Plan

Mr. President,

Working with and for women and young people is central to the work of UNFPA and to our refocused and sharpened Strategic Plan.

UNFPA’s main focus in 2012 is on implementing the revised Strategic Plan and ensuring that we consistently deliver high-impact country programmes with sharp focus, renewed energy and increased efficiency and relevance.

We are determined to demonstrate a clear contribution in accelerating progress on the ICPD agenda and towards meeting Millennium Development Goal 5 to improve maternal health, with both its targets to reduce maternal mortality and achieve universal access to reproductive health.

Together with partners, UNFPA continues to champion the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which has the potential to prevent millions of needless deaths.

We are committed to strengthen our focus on young people so that they are empowered and can fulfill their potential.

And everywhere we work, we champion human rights, and we remain driven by country needs and context.

Accountability and implementing the Business Plan
Mr. President,

I have repeatedly stated both to my staff as well as to external partners that strengthening accountability is my number one institutional priority for UNFPA.

I am happy to report that we are making progress in strengthening a culture of accountability, increasing transparency and addressing outstanding audit recommendations.

A key element in our response going forward is implementing the internal Business Plan that addresses many of the recommendations raised in internal and external audits, in the midterm review of the Strategic Plan and in other reviews.

The main aim of the Business Plan is to sharpen the focus of our programmes on the most urgent needs at the country level.

We are also committed to put, as we have always done, country programmes at the centre of all our work so that country needs fully drive our business with support from Headquarters and Regional Offices.

As one of the first steps, we have established a Programme Review Committee to ensure that all our country programmes are of the highest quality.

We have also set up two clusters, one focusing on adolescents and youth and one on women’s reproductive health. The goal of the cluster approach is to maximize results through coherent planning and increased synergy and to make sure that we are driven by the demand from the field.

The new cluster approach is an innovative way of thinking that will break down silos and better utilize our strengths and resources across the organization.

Increasing collaboration and communication between Headquarters, Regional Offices and Country Offices is also a part of taking UNFPA’s communications to the next level.

We are committed to making communications an integral part of our work, and we are now ready to implement a Fund-wide communications strategy that will strengthen communications systems and culture and ensure that we speak with one voice and have the necessary capacity and information to do our jobs effectively. The importance of communications will also be reflected in the terms of reference of UNFPA staff.

The communications strategy contributes to all the priority areas of the Business Plan, including making sure that the outstanding dedication and commitment of our staff is fully harnessed.

We have taken concrete steps to strengthen staff training and performance evaluation to empower them, build their skills and increase accountability. One new initiative in this area is to partner with reputable institutions around the world to provide training to strengthen management and leadership skills at UNFPA.

Based on feedback from Country Representatives, senior managers and staff, I can report that there is organization-wide commitment to transparency and accountability for results and to making the changes that will make UNFPA the best organization it can be.

We will continue to update you on progress in implementing the Strategic Plan, including in our annual reports to the Executive Board.

Staff safety and security

Mr. President,

Safety and security of staff is an ongoing priority because, as we saw last year, security challenges in the work of the United Nations are grave and often complex.

United Nations has become a soft target, and, last year, many staff members of the United Nations family were killed and injured in crisis situations, and this has left a deep emotional impact.

The senior management at UNFPA is fully committed to support the wellbeing of our staff, and we have significantly enhanced staff safety and security measures by mainstreaming security in all operational and strategic guidelines.

Capitalizing on the progress made during 2011 in contingency planning, crisis management and achieving full compliance with Minimum Operating Security Standards in all offices are key priorities for 2012.

Financial status

Mr. President,

Implementing the Strategic Plan would not be possible without financial support.

I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all Member States that, despite the continuing economic difficulties, have valued and supported UNFPA’s mandate and work.

The provisional data show that, in 2011, UNFPA’s total contribution revenue was $890 million. This represents an almost 5 per cent increase compared to the contribution revenue in 2010.

Out of the total contribution revenue, $452 million was for regular resources and $438 million for co-financing resources.

There was a substantial increase in co-financing resources from our major donors, including Australia, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the European Commission and from joint funding mechanisms.  The bulk of these additional contributions were directed towards the thematic fund for reproductive health commodity security.

I am pleased to report that last year we received contributions from 144 governments, of which 33 were multi-year agreements, mostly from programme countries. To me this is a testimony of the trust of our donors in UNFPA and our work.

Mr. President,

For 2012, we are fully focused on reaching our contribution targets, and we appeal to all donors to maintain their financial support and commitments to UNFPA. 

Moreover, UNFPA has been able to maintain a relatively healthy ratio between the regular and co-financing resource revenues. In 2011, it stood at 51% (regular) to 49% (co-financing).

This trend needs to be continuously monitored to ensure universality and continuity of our programmes and the strategic approach that is required from us. And, irrespective of the funding source, clear alignment with the key focus areas of the Strategic Plan needs to be maintained.

Currently, about 98 per cent of contributions to UNFPA’s regular resources continue to come from the top 20 donors in national currency terms subject to exchange rate volatility.

A strong, secure and predictable funding is critical to the work of UNFPA, and we will continue increased efforts to expand our donor base for regular resources. 

IPSAS and Financial Regulations and Rules

Mr. President,

With the trust of our donors and other partners comes great responsibility to further increase transparency, efficiency and accountability for results, which have also been the guiding principles in implementing IPSAS and revising the Financial Regulations and Rules.

Effective 1 January 2012, UNFPA is operating under IPSAS-compliant accounting policies and expects to issue its first set of IPSAS-compliant financial statements for the financial year 2012.

Working closely with UNDP, we have made changes to the enterprise resource planning system (Atlas) and many business practices.

The adoption of IPSAS is a major change initiative that has been well coordinated throughout the United Nations system. IPSAS will strengthen accountability as well as bring greater transparency for all stakeholders. And, given that IPSAS is not a financial matter alone, all levels at UNFPA have been fully engaged with the IPSAS implementation.

Mr. President,

The proposed revisions to the Financial Regulations and Rules, contained in document DP/FPA/2012/3, are driven by the new cost classification categories approved by the Executive Board in decision 2010/32 and the need to ensure consistency with the existing policies and business practices. Moreover, the revisions would facilitate the work of the newly appointed United Nations Board of Auditors

UNFPA has updated the existing definitions and aligned its Financial Regulations and Rules based on Executive Board decisions, terminology updates and accounting policies and business practices.

Excluding the changes to the definitions, there are a total of 98 changes being made to regulations and rules. The ACABQ report is contained in document DP/FPA/2012/2, which is available to you. Please note that once approved, these revisions to the Financial Regulations and Rules will take effect retroactive to 1 January 2012.

Institutional budget

Mr. President,

Now it is my pleasure to present the institutional budget proposal, contained in document DP/FPA/2012/1, for which I ask for your support. This results-based budget proposal covers the remaining period of the current UNFPA Strategic Plan 2008-2013.

I want to thank the Executive Board for allowing us to postpone the presentation of the final budget proposal to ensure that it is fully informed by the midterm review of the Strategic Plan and based on the priorities identified in the results frameworks.

The total budget proposal is for $292.2 million (gross) and $245.0 million (net) and is based on a projection for total resource income of approximately $1.7 billion ($1,718.8 million) for the biennium.

The institutional budget is linked to the management results framework of the Strategic Plan, with four key outputs that will guide our work for the next two years: enhanced programme effectiveness; strong stewardship of resources; appropriately staffed UNFPA; and broad-based and stable funding.

Focusing on the strategic management outputs will raise the level of operational excellence at UNFPA and enable us to achieve development results on the ground.

We have set an ambitious and challenging funding target for us to achieve. At the same time, I am aware of the budgetary constraints affecting all of us. Therefore, UNFPA’s budget proposal is slightly lower than the restated budget of 2010-2011, and it includes savings and efficiencies as well as austerity measures to ensure that an even greater proportion of our resources go to programmes.

The main principles guiding this budget proposal were to expand resources available for programmes; lower the level of total institutional budget; identify efficiency gains without negatively affecting programme delivery; and prioritize field office requirements.

As a result, the overall ratio of the gross institutional budget to the total use of resources is estimated to decrease from 19.9 per cent in 2010-2011 to 16.7 per cent in 2012-2013. Resources available for programme implementation are projected to increase by 22.9 per cent.

Mr. President,

The proposed budget reflects a minimum level of resources required by UNFPA to provide the needed management and programme support in accordance with the UNFPA Strategic Plan.

In reality, there are continuing and growing needs across UNFPA for strengthening the capacity to deliver on our mandate. However, given the current economic environment, we had to make tough choices and keep the budget in check, in spite of cost increases beyond UNFPA’s control.

These efforts have been recognized by the ACABQ, and UNFPA is pleased with the very positive and supportive report (DP/FPA/2012/2) of the Committee on our budget proposal.

I would also like to thank all Executive Board members for your active participation in informal sessions, positive feedback and guidance throughout the process.

Mr. President,

Sustainable development is the imperative of the 21st century, and it cannot be achieved without equity and human rights. It cannot be achieved without empowering women and young people. And it cannot be achieved without improving sexual and reproductive health.

UNFPA has the potential to move the needle significantly on MDG 5 to improve maternal health.

We have the potential to catalyze change and empower young people, especially adolescent girls.

UNFPA has shown that through focused efforts and strong partnerships we can achieve great results.

UNFPA is fully committed to championing human rights everywhere we work.

UNFPA has unique expertise in advancing sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, addressing population dynamics and promoting gender equality.

We now have a revised strategy that gives us the direction to deliver even stronger results, and we have identified the actions that are needed to make us more dynamic, effective and accountable.

And I know that UNFPA staff are committed and believe in our mission.

We have a busy year ahead of us, and we are ready to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities with renewed energy and determination.

In a world of 7 billion and growing, we are ready and committed to focus our efforts towards delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

I thank you.