I am honored to make this statement on behalf of France, Italy, Sweden and my own country, Norway.
I would like to start by reiterating our sincere appreciation to H.E. Mr. Petersen, as outgoing President of the board, and the other members of the Bureau. Furthermore, we would like to thank Under Secretary General Ms. Faremo for her statement and continued engagement. And we welcome the Ambassador of Mauritius, H.E. Mr. Kanjuul, as incoming President of the board. We look forward to a close and constructive relationship.
We welcome the update on the implementation of the new Strategic Plan for UNOPS. In particular, we commend the important steps that have been taken to create linkages to the Secretary-General’s proposed reform agenda for increased efficiency and quality. We also welcome the important integration of relevant SDGs to deliver on Agenda 2030.
We would like to congratulate UNOPS on the unqualified audit reports for the year ending December 2016. We would also like to commend UNOPS for reaching targets on local procurement early, and for being the only UN organization to receive a gold standard in sustainable procurement.
At the same time, we note the comments of the Board of Auditors that further work is needed in all areas, and would encourage UNOPS to address the recommendations of the Board that have not yet been implemented.
UNOPS is an entity with stable finances and a significant surplus. Seed funding is a constructive use of surplus resources. We welcome this initiative, and look forward to receiving further information on a mandate for the fund.
Efficient use of resources is key for the UN Development System as a whole. Strengthened collaboration between UNOPS and other agencies, particularly related to procurement and infrastructure implementation, are of utter importance. We appreciate the efforts of UNOPS to renew relationships within the UN system and with member states.
As recognized by Under-Secretary-General Ms. Faremo, gender equality is a cross cutting issue and key to achieving Agenda 2030 and the mandate of the QCPR. We are pleased to hear that UNOPS takes the mission of gender balance in the workforce seriously and we are looking forward to follow the developments to come in this area. The inclusion of people with disabilities is also vital to reach our goals to combat inequality. We are heartened to hear that the new gender strategy will meet the UN system-wide gender targets, and that UNOPS will achieve gender parity across its workforce by 2020.
We trust that the strategic plan will lead to better risk-management and a strengthened focus on sustainability in all projects in the years to come.