As prepared for delivery
NEW YORK, December 9, 2021 – âSecretary General Guterres, Excellencies, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends of UNICEFâ¦
âUNICEF was founded in the aftermath of World War II to save children’s lives and protect their rights. Tonight we celebrate that for 75 years UNICEF has served children. From armed conflicts to natural disasters and long-term humanitarian crises. survival and development programs, our staff and partners are on the ground providing essential services to children in need.
âGlobally, the health and well-being of children have improved dramatically since 1946. Working with partners, UNICEF has developed life-changing innovationsâ¦ pump.
âIn the early 1980s, UNICEF launched the Revolution for Child Survival and Development, an initiative to save the lives of millions of children each year, focusing on four low-cost measures: growth monitoring, oral rehydration therapy, breastfeeding promotion and vaccination.
âUNICEF and its partners have embarked on a mission to immunize every child against preventable diseases. In collaboration with governments, we facilitated one of the largest logistics mobilizations in peacetime history. In the early 1990s, global childhood immunization levels had reached 80%.
âThrough the tireless advocacy of UNICEF, in 1989, world leaders made a historic commitment to the children of the world by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Today, the Convention is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform the lives of children around the world.
âIn the 2000s, UNICEF scaled up a ready-to-use therapeutic food that became the global standard for treating malnourished children. From 2000 to 2019, expanding coverage for malaria prevention and treatment through insecticide-treated mosquito nets, tests and drugs, reduced global malaria mortality by 60%.
âAnd in 2015, the world began to work on a new global development agenda, seeking to achieve, by 2030, new goals set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
âWe have made great strides in helping all children realize their right to health, education and protection. At the start of 2020, more children were living to celebrate their first birthdays than at any time in history. Child mortality has fallen by 50% since 2000. Maternal mortality and child marriage were on the decline, and more girls were attending and staying in school.
âBut in the past 20 months, the pandemic has devastated families, communities and countries around the world. COVID-19 is the most significant global crisis for children in our 75-year history. It is already pushing backwards virtually all progress measures for an additional 100 million children have been pushed into poverty Even in the best of cases, it will take seven to eight years to recover and return to pre-COVID child poverty levels.
âThis adds to a wave of protracted and worsening conflicts and the global climate crisis. Globally, 426 million children live in conflict zones. Meanwhile, an estimated one billion children – almost half of the world’s children – live in countries that are at an “extremely high risk” from the impacts of climate change. It is code red that the Secretary-General is warning us all.
âSeventy-five years later, it is time to celebrate the history of our organization, but it is also time for action. It is up to UNICEF, our many partners here this evening, and the children and young people themselves to urgently turn the tide on children’s rights.
âTogether we can do the job.
âThrough collective action, we can end the pandemic and reverse the alarming decline in children’s health and nutrition. We can work with governments and partners to secure essential investments for an inclusive and resilient recovery. We can build back stronger by ensuring quality education, protection and good mental health for every child. And we can strengthen systems to better prevent, respond and protect children from crises – including new approaches to end famines, to predict and protect children from climate change.
âIn my four years as Executive Director of UNICEF, I have seen first-hand what is possible when we put children and young people first and work together to bring those in need. no longer need the support.
âBeing an executive director has been a great privilege. I am deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to collaborate with you – the Member States, and you, Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, our sister agencies, our NGO partners and our supporters in the private sector Thank you for your creativity, your energy and your dedication to the children of the world.
âI want to especially thank our staff at UNICEF. Their commitment and perseverance in improving the lives of children, even under the most difficult circumstances, is a true inspiration. I am proud to have worked alongside them. for the past four years Happy 75th birthday to the UNICEF family.
âAnd thank you, Secretary-General and the Under-Secretary-General for your support for education, Generations Unlimited, vaccines, mental health and peace. Children around the world need peace.
âAbove all, thank you to the children and youth of the world for striving to make the world a greener and more equitable place today and for generations to come. You play the most essential role of all. We are at the start of this century. It will be your century. Let’s reinvent our world together. Let us unite our voices and our actions to make the world a better place for all. Happy birthday to the UNICEF family. “
UNICEF New York
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