Executive Board Jump-start: Organizational learning


Humanitarian action, and child poverty

NEW YORK (USA), 14 February 2022 – The WE Executive Board had its 2022 first session last week. It was held from Tuesday through Friday morning. On Tuesday, Catherine M. Russell was welcomed to the WE Executive Director’s first Board meeting. Members then discussed topics such as organizational learning, humanitarian action, financial reports, private fundraising, partnerships, and other topics over the next days.

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H.E. H.E. Rodrigo A. Carazo was the Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations and President of the Executive Board 2022. “For the first times in many decades, child poverty has risen significantly. Ambassador Carazo stated that one hundred million more children are now without basic necessities like nutrition, health, education, and health. He stated that social protection …. should be one of the fundamental pillars in the response to the current conditions and levels of inequality that have caused so much harm in this society. It can have far-reaching effects that can affect the lives of children in many different areas.

Ms. Russell, Executive Director, stated that children should not be forced to pay the full cost of the pandemic. She also called for investment in systems like social protection and primary care to support families. WE calls on governments to place children at the center of pandemic response plans and recovery plans.

Documents for country programmes – An emphasis on child poverty, social protection

The Board reviewed 14 multi-country/country program documents from Our six operational regions.

Over 800 million children live on less than $3.20 per day, and this has long led to them being overrepresented in the poor. Children are twice as likely live in poverty as adults. The world made steady progress, even if it was slow, towards decreasing child poverty before the pandemic. But, children have new realities. Over 200 countries and territories have expanded over 3,000 social security programs, many of which were funded by WE.

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Ms. Natalia WinderRossi is WE Associate Director for Social Policy and Social Protection. She stressed the life-changing effects of these programmes and noted that “scaling down [investments] in social protection is a proven strategy of reducing poverty.”

Two panels with speakers from government, civil society and youth addressed the urgent need to reduce child poverty. They also discussed the scaling up and financing social protection as a pillar for inclusive and sustainable recovery from the triple C threats of climate change, conflict, and COVID-19. Particular emphasis was given to the urgent need to increase coverage, especially for vulnerable populations, as well as to ensure that social protection systems can respond to future shocks.

Plan for global evaluations in 2022-2025

It is crucial to harness evidence to learn and adapt in these times of crisis and opportunity. The WE plan 2022-2025 for global evaluations will address all five Goal Areas in the WE Strategic Plan 2022-2025, while focusing on the topics that will provide the most value. This will ensure accountability and optimal learning. It will include joint and humanitarian evaluations with partners and agencies of the United Nations.

The Board is a strong advocate for learning from past mistakes and will play an important role in Our accountability. The plan was welcomed by delegations who praised the use of multiple evaluation methods, including joint evaluations and the inclusion of a humanitarian lens in all evaluations. They also commended the inclusion of a humanitarian lens and the inclusion of gender, disability, and other vulnerable and excluded factors through the evaluations for each Goal Area of the Strategic Plan.

Humanitarian action

The Board was given a brief update about Our implementation and progress in implementing the Humanitarian Review recommendations. This is a broad-based and ambitious inquiry that WE conducted in 2019 and 2020 in order to assess how its emergency response work fits into the current humanitarian landscape and determine the changes needed.

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While Our humanitarian work was praised by the Review, 70 recommendations were made that could improve this work. WE is committed to using the Review as a primary tool for managing change and has set a goal of completing all recommendations by 2026, when the next Strategic Plan will be in effect.

The WE update was welcomed by delegations, who praised its transparency and action-oriented outlook. They also requested regular progress updates, information about its plans to address key challenges, and an explanation of their priorities.

The Review calls for significant investments in key areas such as humanitarian leadership to achieve the visionary shift required. WE proposed to the Board that a high-ranking position be created to assist in the delivery of vaccines. This would include a team of senior officials from all levels of government, heads of state, and major donors.

Key decisions

By the end of the session, the Executive Board has adopted eight decisions, which included the endorsement of the new country/multi-country programmes as well as ongoing country programmes; the four-year plan for global evaluations; a joint evaluability assessment; the Private Fundraising and Partnerships workplan and budget; the financial report and audited financial statements and Board of Auditors’ report for 2020 and management response; an update on implementing the recommendations made to tackle sexual misconduct and change the organizational culture; and the establishment of an Assistant Secretary-General position to head the Global COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Inter-Agency Coordination Structure.

Ms. Russell, Executive Director, stated that she was looking forward to working with the Board, the partners, and to implementing the Strategic Plan, reporting on progress, and monitoring achievements. She added that WE is in a great position to fulfill its mission. We will use every advantage and tool we have to help the millions children at risk around the world.

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She thanked the Executive Board of its support for the creation of the COVID-19 position to lead and assist COVID-19 countries readiness and delivery. She stated that WE “has the expertise, humanitarian leadership experience and the country-level capability to help get these vaccines into armies.”

Ambassador Carazo noted that children are more likely than adults to be in poverty, and they also experience the long-lasting, profound effects of poverty throughout their lives.

He said that WE knows exactly what to do, and will continue to fight to…address underlying issues for all our children and teens.”