When it comes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for children, starting with the most deprived and disadvantaged children is not only right in principle, but is also cost effective and practical. This approach is central to the updated road map to and outline of the UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2018–2021, which was adopted by the Executive Board at its first regular session for 2017.
Building on the current plan, the Strategic Plan, 2018–2021, will focus on equity as an accelerator of progress towards improving results for children over the next four years, using the Sustainable Development Goals as a long-term framework.
As inequality grows in many countries, closing the gap between rich and poor remains a top priority. Today, a majority of the world’s poor children live in middle-income countries. Children in the lowest income group are five times more likely to be out of school as those in the highest income group. Many children are also at the mercy of their environments, living in fragile contexts or forcibly displaced from their homes and communities. And humanitarian crises continue to increase in severity and scale.
In the coming decades, climate change and environmental degradation will likely exacerbate the global migration and refugee crisis, as well as other natural hazards and the spread of disease. Globalization and urbanization will similarly increase the risk of epidemics. The Strategic Plan, 2018–2021, will aim to reconcile the current challenges with these looming future threats.
In his presentation on the updated road map and outline of the new strategic plan, George Laryea-Adjei, UNICEF Deputy Director of Data, Research and Policy, highlighted the lessons learned from the Strategic Plan, 2014–2017, which will be incorporated into the upcoming plan. He noted that community engagement and mobilization was a key driver of success in several outcome areas, particularly in health and water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives, and should continue to be supported. Strengthening national service delivery systems and improving service access for children in hard-to-reach areas are also essential to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged children.
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake stated that the organization will work closely and coherently with other United Nations agencies to align its strategic plan so as to achieve the best results for children.
Enhancing results-based budgeting and resource allocation
UNICEF’s results-based budgeting (RBB) allows the organization to request and allocate resources based on the results it strives to achieve, thus increasing its efficiency and transparency.
On Wednesday morning, UNICEF Comptroller Thomas Asare presented the results from an assessment of ways to enhance RBB in the organization. He noted that UNICEF has undertaken a series of initiatives to strengthen the process of RBB to both maximize effectiveness and minimize inefficiencies. These include leveraging new technologies to streamline planning for results by assisting in the articulation of results, definition of indicators, establishment of baselines and targets and selection of strategies to achieve results. These initiatives also improve processes and tools for aligning resources to results, such as budgeting, programme management and monitoring.
The strongest basis for UNICEF to implement RBB comes from regular resources, also known as core resources. Because of their untied nature, regular resources allow the organization to reach children who are in greatest need, thus making them an indispensable part of UNICEF’s programming. In humanitarian crises, regular resources provide flexible and timely funding to scale up life-saving aid. They also contribute to long-term investments in children, such as improved technology and data, while cementing UNICEF’s normative role as a knowledge leader and defender of children’s rights.
In order to continue to achieve results for children in the coming years, UNICEF aims to reverse the decline in regular resources as a percentage of total resources, and to increase contributions to thematic funds as well.
Closing of the 2017 first regular session of the Executive Board
The Board adopted a total of four draft decisions over the course of the session, including one related to new country programme documents for Haiti and Botswana; a second approving the Private Fundraising and Partnerships: 2017 workplan and proposed budget; a third related to the Updated road map to and outline of the UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2018–2021; and a fourth on the UNICEF financial report and audited financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2015 and report of the Board of Auditors.