Thank you, Mr. President and thank you, Dr. Osotimehin for your excellent work in preparing us for this week's meeting. 2011 was an important year - the world population reached seven billion, a major milestone and challenge for us as estimates indicate that 40 percent of countries are not on track to achieve the MDG 5 targets. With a growing world population, the demand for sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, will also continue to grow - so our work to support the ICPD Program of Action becomes all the more important. We must continue with conviction our efforts to alleviate poverty, inequality, lack of education, and poor healthcare that affects billions in the developing world, including a growing population of youth.
The Obama Administration strongly supports UNFPA’s goals and programs, which provide life saving assistance to women, children, and families in over 150 countries. Achievement of these goals is critically important to the United States, especially those related to the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and we recognize the important leadership role that UNFPA has played on these issues over nearly four decades. We welcome the new Deputy Executive Director for Management, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, and look forward to the appointment of a new Deputy Executive Director for Programs.
We appreciate the update you provided on the Fund’s Business Plan and recognize that implementation will be challenging. We would greatly value updates on each of the 15 recommendations and hope to see additional emphasis on evidence-based planning. We commend the Fund’s commitment on transparency and accountability and urge the upcoming evaluation process to be carried out with a similar high regard for these principles. As such, we encourage you to hire consultants who are fully independent from the Fund so that the evaluation process will be unimpeachably unbiased. We also encourage an increase in transparency regarding the Global and Regional Project budget. We understand that an audit on this topic is available and we plan to review it in the first quarter of this year. We would like to emphasize that evaluation and program offices should perform distinct tasks. While they need to communicate and work closely with each other in a learning process to improve the organization’s programs, the evaluation function should be independent of program units to preserve the objectivity and reliability of the evaluation office’s work, which is vital to UNFPA’s success. In a similar vein, since the new cost classification for the integrated budgets will be more transparent than before, we look forward to seeing the new cost classification in the mock integrated budget.
Regarding the UNFPA Strategic Plan for 2012-13 and its Development Results Framework (DRF), we encourage consistent incorporation of the approved vision throughout the organization, including as the foundation to your preparations for ICPD Beyond 2014. The DRF goal statement's clear focus on the pillars of integrated sexual and reproductive health services and adolescents' health and development, both undergirded by human rights and gender equality, provide an excellent path for accelerating progress on the ICPD agenda and MDG 5, and should be implemented as soon as possible at all levels of the organization.
In this regard, we encourage you to continue the consultative process you began with NGOs in preparation for ICPD Beyond 2014 to ensure the process has a broad and lasting impact. The technical review is essential to a meaningful outcome, but this must be supported by a process that ensures political commitment and engagement across countries and regions, and through partner institutions and organizations.
We commend the second generation strategy the Fund has developed on its humanitarian response to crisis. Too often, sexual and reproductive health has been over-looked during emergencies and natural disasters. Our common goal must be to ensure rapid, reliable access to reproductive health services and commodities. From relief to recovery, UNFPA’s efforts to promote the health of women and children are an essential aspect of multilateral response efforts. We encourage continued progress on coordinating efforts with UNHCR as well as strengthening the Fund’s role as co-lead with UNICEF on the gender based violence sub-cluster within the protection cluster group.
We also encourage UNFPA to continue to fully engage in preparations for the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20. Social issues, such as population and health services, including reproductive health care and family planning, are important components of sustainable development.
Finally, we recognize that the Fund has a full agenda for the upcoming year. In order to continue your excellent work, we would like to underscore the importance of moving expeditiously to fill vacant positions at all levels.
Mr. President, I would like to close by expressing our appreciation again for Dr. Osotimehin’s leadership in advancing UNFPA's goals and objectives. The U.S. government stands in solidarity with your mission, your efforts, and your dedication.
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