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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF)

Q1. How have the COVID-19 pandemic and the current food, energy and financing crises changed the priorities of your organization? 

UNICEF will continue to work towards achieving long-term results in five interconnected Goal Areas linked to children’s rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This will ensure that, in all contexts, including humanitarian crises and fragile settings, every child, including adolescents, (1) survives and thrives with access to nutritious diets, quality primary health care, nurturing practices and essential supplies; (2) learns and acquires skills for the future; (3) is protected from violence, exploitation, abuse, neglect and harmful practices; (4) has access to safe and equitable WASH services and supplies, and lives in a safe and sustainable climate and environment; and (5) has access to inclusive social protection and lives free from poverty. 

UNICEF is shifting towards a transformative, intersectional approach to inequality and discrimination, to address their underlying drivers by transforming structures and norms, with gender equality at the core of UNICEF work and with a renewed focus on disability rights, inequality and discrimination, mental health and climate change to ensure that no child is left behind.  

UNICEF is shifting its focus beyond what the organization can do alone, towards using its mandate to mobilize other actors and maximize collective impact, rallying support around development opportunities and advance human security globally. Public and private partnerships, including within the United Nations system, have been key to scaling up pandemic response interventions and ensuring they reach the most vulnerable communities and will enable UNICEF to leverage financing, influence, innovation and expertise to realize children rights sustainability at scale. UNICEF focus will be on transformative partnerships which include strengthened engagement with businesses, communities, parents and caregivers, children and young people.  


Q2. How has your organization supported Member States to accelerate their recovery from COVID-19 and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda? How has your organization cooperated with other UN system organizations in these efforts to achieve coherence and synergies?

Accelerating recovery and progress towards the SDGs and realizing children’s rights will require global solidarity and concerted efforts to support the most vulnerable. In a global context of constrained resources, it will be critical for UNICEF to put in place strategies to leverage financing for children, including countries’ domestic resources and those of the UN development system, IFIs, civil society and the private sector. UNICEF will look beyond its own resources towards using its mandate to leverage financing to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and drive equity-based agendas around the world, engaging in discussions and advocacy around debt relief to make sure that the most vulnerable children are protected. 

With its sister United Nations agencies, UNICEF will build a United Nations system that truly delivers as one. UNICEF will expand its collaborations with the private sector and civil society, focusing on leveraging all they have to offer, from financing to expertise and influence.  UNICEF continues to work with other United Nations entities, such as UNDP, UNFPA, UN-Women, UNDCO, to align the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks and country programme documents to elevate the level of results achieved for children in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals. 


Q3. Has your organization published or is it planning to publish any analytical work or guidance note or toolkits to guide and support recovery efforts from COVID-19 while advancing full implementation of SDGs at national, regional and global levels? 

Yes, the UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2022-2025 is the main guiding resource for UNICEF towards an inclusive recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the attainment of the SDGs and the realization and protection of every child – especially the most marginalized and excluded.  The Strategic Plan focuses on driving sustainable change to make a measurable difference in children’s lives throughout the Decade of Action and beyond.  

Guided by the principle of universality and a strong focus on human rights, the Strategic Plan emphasizes elements of the 2030 Agenda with special relevance for children, namely Sustainable Development Goals 1 to 6, 10 and 16. The Plan also focuses on systemic changes that are critical to addressing the underlying causes of children’s mortality, poverty, vulnerability, gender inequality and exclusion in all settings, including humanitarian crises and fragile settings.  


UNICEF’s latest report on nutrition (Child Food Poverty - A Nutrition Crisis in Early Childhood) sounds the alarm on the state of child food poverty – a situation where young children are not fed the minimum number of food groups they need in early childhood. Today in low- and middle-income countries, 2 in 3 children under five – or 478 million – experience food poverty. Children living in severe food poverty are among the most vulnerable to undernutrition in early childhood, which can increase children’s risk of death by up to 12 times. The combined effects of conflict – including the war in Ukraine – climate change and the socioeconomic impacts of COVID, have fueled a global food and nutrition crisis that is exacerbating the precarious situation of these children. 

Health care facilities are essential for reducing disease. Yet without basic water, sanitation, hygiene, waste management and cleaning (WASH) services to prevent and control infections, these places of healing can instead contribute to more disease, prolonged hospital stays and preventable deaths. According to the latest WHO/ UNICEF JMP report Progress on WASH in health care facilities 2000-2021: Special focus on WASH and infection prevention and control (IPC) half of health care facilities around the world lack basic hygiene services (access to soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub at both points of care and at toilets) and 9 per cent have no hygiene services at all. It is estimated that 3.85 billion people lack a basic hygiene service at their health care facility, including 688 million who receive care at facilities with no hygiene services at all. Furthermore, 1.7 billion people lack a basic water service at their health care facility, including 857 million people with no water service at all. Contaminated hands and environments play a significant role in the transmission of pathogens in health care facilities and the spread of antimicrobial resistance. The report offers guidance on how to increase access to hygiene facilities, improve health care waste management and environmental cleaning, which are crucial for preventing and controlling infection, as well as for providing quality care. 

Vaccines save lives – but only if people have access to them. In 2021 alone, 25 million infants around the world missed out on vaccines – that's 2 million more than in 2020 and 6 million more than in 2019 – according to the recently released immunization coverage estimates by UNICEF and WHO. These numbers signal the largest continued decline in childhood vaccinations in approximately 30 years. The decline in vaccine coverage is due to many factors, including COVID-19 related disruptions to immunization services and supply chains, pandemic response measures that reduced service access and availability, an increased number of children living in conflict and fragile settings where immunization access is tenuous as well as increased misinformation.  

There are nearly 240 million children with disabilities in the world. They are 34 per cent more likely to be stunted, 32 per cent more likely to experience severe corporal punishment and 41 per cent more likely to feel discriminated against. Using the latest available data, the publication Seen, Counted, Included: Using data to shed light on the well-being of children with disabilities covers more than 60 indicators of child well-being – from nutrition and health to access to water and sanitation, protection from violence and exploitation, and education. The report also includes the first-ever global and regional estimates of children with disabilities. 

Q4. How has your organization engaged with stakeholder groups to support SDG implementation and COVID-19 recovery at national, regional and global levels? Please provide main highlights, including any lessons learned. For example, what has worked particularly well as a model for effective stakeholder engagement? 

The UNICEF response to COVID-19 and the socioeconomic impacts of mitigation measures have highlighted both opportunities and gaps that need to be addressed to tackle the pressing global challenges. The organization had to pivot and adapt quickly during the pandemic. For example, remote service delivery, especially through digital means, and flexible community-based approaches were essential adaptations to ensure the continuity of service delivery and for leaving no child behind. Examples of effective stakeholder partnerships include: (1) The Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE), which has been one of the key pillars of UNICEF’s COVID-19 response (; (2) UNICEF continues to host the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative and co-convenes SDG4-Education 2030 together with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and six other entities (; UNICEF works with the International Telecommunication Union on Internet connectivity (GIGA) and child online protection (; The National Committees for UNICEF are longstanding partners and part of the wider UNICEF organization – serving as the face and voice of UNICEF in their countries. UNICEF works closely with the National Committees as they support delivering on the UNICEF Strategic Plan and universal mandate, including through resource mobilization and advocacy for children’s rights domestically and globally ( 

Q5. In the 2019 SDG Summit declaration (GA Resolution 74/4), Member States outlined ten priority areas for accelerated action in SDG implementation. Please highlight any major integrated and innovative policies or initiatives that your organization may have adopted in these ten priority areas:

5.1 leaving no one behind

  • Non-discrimination is a guiding principle of all UNICEF work. It underlies the pledge set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind, guiding the core focus of UNICEF on equity and inclusion. The organization actively seeks out and supports children from the poorest, most marginalized and excluded groups, including children living in extreme poverty; children with disabilities; indigenous children; children belonging to racial, ethnic, religious s and linguistic groups and migrant communities who experience discrimination; and children who are discriminated against for any other reason. 

  • UNICEF is also starting to address racial injustice and to make anti-racism an explicit focus of its work to leave no one behind.

5.2 mobilizing adequate and well-directed financing;

While the COVID-19 pandemic initially disrupted the regular operating environment for fundraising and programming, UNICEF saw exponential growth in other resources (OR). UNICEF’s quick pivoting and strong positioning of its role during the COVID-19 response allowed the organization to benefit from the outpouring of solidarity and support from the public. In 2021, UNICEF surpassed the US$8 billion income mark for the first time ever. However, political events in Europe are throwing the funding landscape into disarray, impacting the global economy, with effects already seen on food and energy.  

In total, UNICEF plans to raise US$18.5 billion from the public sector and US$7.2 billion (net income) from the private sector from 2022 to 2025. It also plans to more strategically pursue public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a modality to accelerate results and impact for children.  In the coming years, UNICEF plans to invest more time, effort, and resources to not only maintain support from its traditional resource partners, but to also tap into emerging opportunities for all types of funding. This will require more systematic engagement with the public and private sectors, supported by strong advocacy and communication efforts to contribute to UNICEF’s goals of increasing both income and influence. 

5.3 enhancing national implementation;  

5.4 strengthening institutions for more integrated solutions;  

5.5 bolstering local action;  

5.6 reducing disaster risk and building resilience;  

5.7 solving challenges through international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership;  

5.8 harnessing science, technology and innovation with a greater focus on digital transformation for sustainable development;  

5.9 investing in data and statistics for the SDGs;  

5.10 strengthening the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). 

UNICEF has been involved in the HLPF process. Every year, UNICEF provides a set of key advocacy asks for our country, regional and national committees offices who are often called on by governments to assist in the VNR process. External 2-pager issue briefs containing the messaging in the key askes has been developed for sharing with external partners on SDGs in addition to cross-cutting issues such as: 

  1. Investing in Children, Adolescents and Youth 

  1. Monitoring the situation of Children, Adolescents and Youth 

  1. Linking Child Rights and the SDGs 

  1. Including Children, Adolescents and Youth  

  1. Business 7 Children  

UNICEF also worked closely with the Group of Friends of Children and the SDGs, a group of 68 Member States* (69 members with the EU as an observer) who advocate for children within the context of SDG implementation efforts. At the 2022 HLPF, 66 members of the GoF issued a joint statement ahead of the Transforming Education Summit (TES) on the importance of learning basic literacy and numeracy as the foundation on which children build their futures, and that of their families and communities. The statement also reminded the importance of quality learning to build back better and advance the implementation of the SDGs.  

Q6. Following the adoption ofthe 2022 Ministerial Declaration, please highlight any major integrated and innovative policies or initiatives that your organization may have adopted related to the below, if applicable:

6.1 Member States encouraged "the United Nations system and all relevant actors to take advantage of emerging technologies and their applications, as appropriate, in order to maximize impact and effectiveness in data analysis and collection and stress the need to bridge the digital gap among and within countries" (Paragraph 86)

6.2 Member States specifically called upon the UN system "to work with the newly established United Nations Food Systems Coordination Hub, hosted by FAO, to support Governments to develop and strengthen SDG-based national pathways for sustainable food systems transformation" (Paragraph 128)

Q7. The 2023 SDG Summit is expected to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development and follow-up and review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, including through national and regional consultations, which will mark the beginning of a new phase of accelerated progress towards the SDGs. In the lead up to the 2023 SDG Summit, please provide your organization’s recommendations on how to overcome challenges to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the SDGs, taking into account the thematic reviews and voluntary national reviews conducted to date. 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew that achievement of the SDGs was off track. Now, almost three years since the onset of the pandemic, we are at risk of reversing progress that was made on several indicators. We must recover the spirit of 2015 and reaffirm our commitments to work together in solidarity. All stakeholders – governments, the private sector, NGOs, the UN System and the public – must work together to accelerate action on the SDGs. This is a matter of urgency as business as usual is not good enough. The commitments in the SDG Summit Political Declaration at this midway junction must be concise, actionable, and focused on:  

  • Financial Investments: We need to scale up our investment in the basic services children need to survive and thrive, such as education, health, nutrition and social protection. Sustained, reliable financing is the only way to expand opportunities and access for the most deprived and disadvantaged children and families 

  • Disaggregated data and statistics: To not leave anyone behind and achieve sustainable development for all, we need information. We need to ensure that national SDG monitoring frameworks include child-focused indicators and greater investment in high-quality and disaggregated data, including capacity and innovation to collect.  

  • The most vulnerable groups including women and children must be featured predominantly in the outcome declaration. If we are going to live up to our commitment to “leave no one behind”, we must reach out to the farthest behind first. We must be visionary and constructive.  

ECESA Plus Member
Year of submission: 2022