Annual Report 2015
Every child has the right to a fair chance in life. Leaving no child behind is both a moral imperative and a strategic priority for the development of inclusive, sustainable and stable societies everywhere. In 2015, UNICEF worked with partners around the world to make that fair chance a reality.
The year provided a renewed opportunity to build on past achievements with an eye towards reaching all children and narrowing persistent gaps in equity – specifically, gaps affecting children left behind despite overall progress made under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from 2000 through 2015.
The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), approved by 193 Member States of the United Nations in 2015, incorporate objectives that are specific to the health and well-being of children – including adolescents. The goals include targets for early childhood development, universal access to education, and protection of girls and boys from violence, abuse and exploitation. There are also targets related to ending harmful practices against children and promoting their legal identify through birth registration.
Together with an alliance of child-focused agencies, the Special Representative of the SecretaryGeneral on Violence against Children, other United Nations agencies and Member States, UNICEF advocated intensively for the child protection targets, which previously had not been integrated into the global development agenda.
The new global goals recognize the critical importance of promoting equity in access to child and maternal health care, proper nutrition, safe drinking water, birth registration, quality education and other essentials. By adopting the goals, the world’s governments committed to a pledge “that no one will be left behind … and we will endeavour to reach the furthest behind first.” This approach mirrors UNICEF’s perspective that sustainable development is achievable only if progress accelerates for the poorest and most marginalized children and families.
In pursuit of a more equitable world, UNICEF stepped up our response to both entrenched and new challenges in 2015.
The mass influx of migrants and refugees into Europe, in particular, underscored the need to respond quickly to the shifting circumstances of children in all contexts, including countries of origin, transit and destination – and to protect their best interests at every stage. In this case, the crisis has reached the ‘backyard’ of high-income countries.
At the same time, UNICEF sought new ways to meet children’s basic needs – for health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and protection – in the most difficult circumstances and remote locations. That meant piloting new solutions at the country level and launching a Global Innovation Centre and Innovation Fund to nurture and scale up creative means of improving young lives and reaching the unreached.
On the humanitarian front, UNICEF and partners responded to major crises in Iraq, South Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen; health emergencies in Latin America and West Africa; earthquake devastation in Nepal; typhoons in the Pacific; droughts in the Sahel, East Africa and the Americas; and many more. Breaking down the barriers between short-term humanitarian action and longer-term development work, we focused on strengthening systems that provide critical services. In this way, we seek to help communities anticipate shocks and become more resilient when disasters strike.
In 2015, we also advanced our work on breaking down another set of barriers to equity and sustainable development: the ones that prevent girls and young women from realizing their full potential. UNICEF’s Gender Action Plan 2014−2017 provides a framework for targeting gender-driven inequities. Besides mainstreaming gender across all programmes, the plan focuses on improving adolescent health, advancing girls’ secondary education and ending child marriage, as well as addressing gender-based violence in emergencies. UNICEF also helped to raise the profile of gender issues in the final targets selected for the SDGs.
The vast majority of results UNICEF achieved in 2015 would not have happened without the close collaboration of our partners – including governments, civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foundations, the private sector, other agencies of the United Nations, local communities, and children and young people themselves. Our 34 National Committees, which work with UNICEF on behalf of child rights worldwide, remained key partners as well.
UNICEF relies on the generosity and dedication of our resource partners, who make programmes and results for children possible. Most of the revenue received by UNICEF in 2015 came from governments, but private-sector funds accounted for a growing proportion of the total.
The commitments set forth in the SDGs and other international agreements reached in 2015 inspired new hopes worldwide. With those hopes came an even greater responsibility for UNICEF and our partners to turn commitments on paper into results on the ground for all children. This report highlights our efforts to do just that in a demanding year.