I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Bureau members of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board Bulgaria, the Gambia, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and my own country, Bangladesh.
I thank the UNOPS Executive Director, Ms. Grete Faremo, for her presentation on the work of UNOPS in programme countries.
On behalf of the Bureau, I commend your leadership and the dedication and sacrifice of the frontline staff of the UNOPS in responding to the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has jeopardized our decades of hard-earned development gains. We are facing the worst recession in 90 years. We need enhanced global solidarity and partnership to chart out an inclusive and resilient recovery for everyone, everywhere. The UN Development system is expected to play a critical role in this regard.
We are happy to see that the demand for service delivery by UNOPS has risen significantly amid the pandemic. It speaks of the trust and confidence that the UNOPS enjoys among its development partners. It can play a critical role in enhancing infrastructure investment and fast-tracking a sustainable recovery.
Allow me to briefly highlight a few areas where we believe the UNOPS can contribute more meaningfully:
First, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for UNOPS services grew significantly. We appreciate that UNOPS contributed to strengthening the capacity of health infrastructure of many countries by enhancing critical medical supplies such as PPEs, laboratory equipment, lifesaving medicines etc. We encourage UNOPS to build on this experience and contribute further to the COVID-19 response and recovery activities of their programme countries.
Second, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the high importance of digital infrastructure, STI, and new technologies to put us back on the SDGs track. It is imperative to upscale investments in these areas to bridge the digital and technological divides both within and across societies. We wish to see that UNOPS will continue to engage with different stakeholders to promote technology and innovation in support of SDGs. This should be a priority in its next strategic plan.
Third, the UNOPS’s engagements in Climate Vulnerable Countries should be aimed to support their efforts to build infrastructure to withstand climatic shocks. They need enhanced investment to keep pace with the changing nature and frequency of climate induced disasters. The Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement can be the blueprints for a new paradigm of sustainable investment in infrastructure.
Fourth, we are happy to see a gender responsive approach in the work culture of UNOPS. We encourage UNOPS to work with all the stakeholders in their programme countries to promote further the concept of Gender-responsive infrastructure design. This can play a critical role to address gender inequalities and empower women.
Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has put millions of children, especially in developing countries, out of school. Many of them have already lost more than one academic year due to lack of digital education infrastructure. The UNOPS can contribute to the efforts of many countries to build capacities in these areas. This should also be a priority in its next strategic plan.
As the UNOPS is preparing to launch its next strategic plan for 2022-2025, it should tailor its work to complement the priorities set by the national Governments in the best possible manner. The 2020 QCPR provides adequate guidelines in this regard. The Board wishes to work with the UNOPS leadership and the programme and donor countries to achieve their shared development goals.
I thank you all.