Annual meeting of National Committees of UNICEF in Helsinki 6-9 May 2013, Introductory remarks by Jarmo Viinanen, Permanent Reprentative of Finland to the UN and President of the Executive Board of UNICEF
It is a great honor and pleasure for me to address the annual meeting of National Committees of UNICEF. I am very pleased that Finland is hosting this important event. A warm welcome to Helsinki on my behalf as well! As you have already noticed, the sun is always shining in Helsinki.
I wish to express my particular gratitude to the organizers of this meeting for their tireless work, as well as to the Executive Director Mr. Lake for being here this week.
As was mentioned, I have the honor to serve as the President of the UNICEF Executive Board this year.
This is in fact the first time ever Finland is presiding the UNICEF Executive Board. But we are no strangers to this organization. Over 65 years ago, when UNICEF started its mission to help the world’s children, Finnish children received support from UNICEF.
We are very proud that we as a receiving country managed to become a donor country in only three years. Our commitment has been there ever since and we have constantly increased our financial and human contribution to the organization.
This is an important year in the UNICEF Executive Board. The Board will debate in June and is expected to adopt in September the new Strategic plan for UNICEF for the coming four years. The new strategy has been in the making already for some time and several consultations and workshops have been organized around the topic.
To me the draft looks very promising and the initial feedback from the Executive Board has also been positive. Together with an integrated budget it will provide appropriate guidance and resources to the organization for coming years.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have understood that the main purpose of this annual gathering is to debate how the National Committees can best contribute to the work of UNICEF during 2014-2017 and in taking the Private Fundraising and Partnerships Plan for the same period forward.
I have been delighted to note the positive developments in private fundraising and partnerships. I would like to acknowledge and thank all representatives of all the National Committees for your important work to this end.
The fundraising of the National Committees is an increasingly significant part of the overall revenue of UNICEF. This is a crucial complement to government and other funding, particularly in the difficult financial and economic climate we live in.
National Committees play an invaluable role not only in fundraising and partnerships, but also in child rights advocacy, and working together with other stakeholders in support of child rights in their own countries.
National Committees contribute strongly to building trust in UNICEF as an organization. National Committees are key contributors to UNICEF’s image. UNICEF’s visibility, and familiar trademark is a clear strength for the organization and the National Committees’ role in this regard cannot be overemphasized.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Millennium Development Goals have guided the development activities since the turn of the millennium. We have less than three years to do our utmost to reach the MDGs – we need to give 1000 per cent, as the Secretary General of the UN called for at the launch of his 1000 days effort campaign last month In New York.
At the same time discussions on the post-2015 development agenda are intensifying. I agree with those who say that the overarching aim of the Post 2015 Development Agenda should be eradication of poverty in our lifetime.
We all know that this cannot be measured only in simple so and so many dollars per day measurements. This is a much deeper and wider issue. Poverty eradication needs to be linked to advancing sustainable development as well as the rule of law and human rights. One concrete issue related to this is as simple as birth registration.
UNICEF has a key role and responsibility to advocate that wellbeing and rights of the child remain a priority in global development. And UNICEF has done this by participating actively in several consultation and conversation processes around the globe, including the one on conflicts, violence and disasters, sponsored by Finland.
During my visits to Africa and Western Balkans, I have learned what a powerful and credible actor UNICEF is. The organization’s contribution is well weaved into national development priorities. This is key in achieving sustainable results.
UNICEF has a special role in fragile situations, as an organization that is and remains present at country level no matter how difficult the context. Unfortunately UNICEF’s humanitarian activities have been in high demand from Syria to Somalia and from Yemen to Mali.
The focus areas of UNICEF have to be reflected in the new development goals. And we have to ensure that UNICEF contributes to the achievement of today’s and future development goals.
Ladies and gentlemen,
UNICEF will only be able to respond to the complex challenges of our times if it has available adequate financial resources. This is particularly true as far as the regular resources are concerned. Therefore it is worrying that UNICEF has registered a 7 per cent decline of core resources over the past year.
We need to make the case for more core funding to reverse this trend. In addition we also need to talk about better quality and less strictly earmarked non-core funding. Donor governments have to look into the mirror and live up to our commitments and expectations.
I would also strongly encourage National Committees to take this matter to your hearts. Please use your influence and make the case for more core funding for UNICEF in your respective countries. More core funding is needed in every program country, whether a Least Developed or Middle Income Country.
Core funding is of paramount importance for success in the UNICEF’s work for children.
Ladies and gentlemen,
To conclude, let me once again reiterate that it is a true honor to participate in this important meeting in my capacity of the President of the Executive Board.
Let us all continue to give our full support to the invaluable work of UNICEF to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children in the world and realize their rights.
I wish you successful and constructive meeting during this week to this end.