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Statement delivered by Denmark at Annual Session of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board, Item 10: Annual Report of the Executive Director, 5 June 2018 in New York

08.06.2018  14:31

(Check against delivery)

Thank you, Mr. President, for giving me the floor, and also to Executive Director, Dr. Kanem, for your statement.

I want to begin by commending UNFPA – its leadership and dedicated staff – for the results achieved over the past four years, as outlined in the report of the Executive Director on the implementation of the Strategic Plan, 2014-2017.

I want to dwell a bit on some of the results achieved because they are impressive and they translate into real possibilities, hopes and freedom for thousands of girls, women, boys and men around the world.

To have saved over 800,000 girls from female genital mutilation and to have supported over 57,000 fistula repair surgeries is no small thing.  

The critical importance of UNFPA’s work is also clear having averted 125,000 maternal deaths and 15,2 million unsafe abortions. The numbers are high. And the list continues. Congratulations for these impressive results.

At the same time, in spite of these impressive results, there is still much more to be done. And we know that…

This year it is 50 years since reproductive rights were first formally recognized but political, religious and cultural conservatism continues to hinder the full realization of these rights. More than 200 million women in the developing countries are still denied these rights, 214 million women still have an unmet need for contraception, and 25 million unsafe abortions still take place each year.

So we need to make progress and we need to make progress in an environment that is not necessarily conducive to achieving results, UNFPA must therefore continue to adapt on several fronts. Allow me, Mr. President, to touch briefly on some issues that Denmark sees as of critical importance for UNFPA’s delivery of results going forward.

There will be no effective development results without a more coordinated and cooperative UN. Thursday last week, all UN Member States adopted the new resolution on reform of the UN Development System. At the adoption, the Secretary General said that the resolution ushers in the most ambitious and comprehensive transformation of the UN Development System in decades. And he emphasized that the aim is to put in place the mechanisms to make a real difference in the lives of people.

Now it is time for us all to join forces to support the implementation of the new resolution, so that the UN Development System can reach its full potential. Only in that way can the System provide the best possible support for Member States in their implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Denmark expects UNFPA to do their part in implementing the reform, loyally and in close and constructive cooperation with the Secretary General and sister organizations.

As the report points out, the scope, frequency and complexity of humanitarian crises is at an unprecedented level. And evidence unfortunately shows that the rights of women and girls are put under severe pressure in humanitarian settings, with the risk of halting or reversing the progress made. Addressing this challenge requires that UNFPA continues to strengthen its capacity in the humanitarian field and enhance the integration between development and humanitarian work in your own programmes and in your work with other partners. We commend UNFPA for the steps, it has already taken to strengthen its humanitarian engagement and encourage UNFPA to continue these efforts, using its comparative advantage and building on its already strong humanitarian experience and lessons learned.

We strongly encourage UNFPA to continue to deliver and support more effective and innovative solutions to achieve better results. Innovation is a priority for Denmark and that is why we have provided funding for the innovation efforts of UNFPA as well as other funds and programmes. The aim of the innovation contribution is for UNFPA to reach more people in a more effective manner, at less cost and with better results. Looking specifically at UNFPA’s areas of work, innovation and technology can for instance be used to improve the collection of population data, to educate midwifes and to better the delivery of contraceptives.

To achieve its goals, UNFPA must also continuously ensure that its human and financial resources are optimally deployed. Denmark therefore supports UNFPA’s ongoing change management process and appreciates the Executive Director’s leadership in the process.

To deliver the results, UNFPA of course needs adequate funding. Recognizing the challenges faced by UNFPA, Denmark commends UNFPA for its successful resource mobilization efforts and encourages UNFPA to continue to look at new ways to create and expand partnerships, to broaden its donor base and to increase the visibility of the results achieved.

Before I close, I want to raise a topic that has attracted a lot of attention in the recent months and rightfully so, namely sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment. Such behaviour is not only wrong, it is also very harmful for the UN’s credibility as a global norm setter. We expect UNFPA and the UN system as a whole to stand firm on its principle of zero tolerance towards such misconduct and to implement the required institutional and cultural changes in a coherent and systemwide matter.

Finally, I would like to reiterate Denmark’s warm appreciation of and strong support for the work of UNFPA. Denmark looks forward to continuing working together with UNFPA to achieve a world with zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet demand for family planning and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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