Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – Executive Board OF UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS: UNFPA Segment

New York, 10/06/2021 - 22:00, UNIQUE ID: 210610_36
Statements on behalf of the EU

10 September 2021, New York – Statement by the European Union delivered by H.E. Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Executive Board OF UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS Annual Session 2021: UNFPA Segment on Agenda Item 12: Statement by the Executive Director and Annual Report

 - Final -


Madame President, Madame Executive Director, colleagues,


I am delivering this statement for the European Union as a donor.

The European Union attaches great importance to the excellent cooperation with UNFPA both on advocacy and on implementation, based on the shared commitment to fulfilling the promise of the International Programme on Population and Development (ICPD).

We are at a crossroads. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a dramatic setback for the progress achieved until it hit. The pandemic has had a dramatic negative impact - directly and indirectly – on the three transformative results which frame UNFPA’s strategic plan:

  • Maternal mortality has increased due to shortages in hospital beds and staff, as these were blocked by COVID patients, not to speak of the medical staff we lost to COVID-19.
  • The disruption of supply chains and the effects of the lock-downs led to shortages in contraceptive supplies, unmet family planning needs and an increase in unwanted pregnancies
  • There has been a dismal increase in GBV during lockdown, as we are all aware, and the incidence of other harmful practices, such as genital mutilation has also increased.

We commend the Executive Director Dr Kanem for having raised the awareness of the international community to this dire situation, for making every effort to counter the flood, and for making clear that investment in GBV and SRHR services are live-saving investments. The European Union is proud that we were able help with the flexibility in the use of funds from Spotlight Initiative. (The historic push of the Spotlight Initiative to fight all forms of GBV, is financed by an EU investment of EUR 500 million.  UNFPA is a key partner for the EU along-side UNWOMEN, UNDP and UNICEF).

A further COVID-induced setback is the dramatic cut in support from a major donor. We regret that UNFPA has to go through the experience for the second time within less than five years, increasing uncertainty in UNFPA’s planning for support to what are often the most vulnerable parts of societies.


The European Union appeals to all donors to abstain from the temptation to cut support to those most in need in the most difficult of times.


Against the backdrop of engagement in COVID-19 recovery efforts, UNFPA has pushed through a remarkable consultation process for the next Strategic Plan (SP) 2022-2025, in which the EU engaged actively.


We concur that the present SP was the first in a series of three which will pursue the same transformative goals: Zero unmet need for family planning, zero preventable maternal deaths, and zero harmful practices and GBV.  We further concur that the lessons learned during COVID-19 have to inform the next SP, triggering adjustments where warranted, such as the inclusion of mental health issues and greater attention to social norms. The current SP period largely coincided with the implementation of the repositioning of the UN development system. We have been encouraged by UNFPA’s full embrace of the reform and its ability to benefit from it by using the Resident Coordinators and the wider UN system to amplify the values and norms embedded in UNFPA.


We congratulate Dr Kanem, her leadership team and the staff of UNFPA on the timely presentation of a draft Strategic Plan 2022- 2025 ahead of this week’s meeting and look forward to further discussions and adoption in September.


We would like to use the opportunity of today’s interactive exchange, by asking the three questions:


  1. Without adequate human resources it will not be possible to achieve the desired results. Where has UNFPA’s come out or where do you think it will come out with the revision of its human resource plan? How do you factor in resource instability?
  2. UNFPA has a double humanitarian – development mandate. How do you seek to balance those two - your built-in humanitarian-development nexus - including in terms of human resources? And how do recent resource cuts impact on the balance between the two functions?
  3. Against the backdrop of what was a very difficult year for all of us, what has been in your view Dr Kanem the best development for UNFPA?
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