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We are part of a global family: Reflections from the UNICEF Executive Board meeting

All this week, I have been taking part in a meeting of UNICEF’s Executive Board at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It is the governing body of our organization, which provides intergovernmental support and oversight. It meets three times a year, and each time it humbles me.

When I began my career working with special needs children in Canada and street children in Central America, I would never have imagined, or even considered it possible, that I would find myself here, working with the world’s agency for children. It is those children and the millions like them who keep me motivated every day.

2016: A challenging start to the year

This year, the refugee and migrant crisis shook us all to our core. As a father, as a grandfather, as a humanitarian, as a global citizen, it pains me to see so many children suffering through no fault of their own. I could see the same pain in the eyes of UNICEF board members from around the world this week too.

We are being challenged by the public, and rightly so. For years, our faithful supporters have looked to us for leadership, for guidance, for action, when they see any child suffering or in danger. A global crisis is unfolding right in front of us, and the world is looking to us for a solution.

Here in Canada, I am proud to say that everyone on our team has stepped up their efforts to put an end to the tragedy. We are calling on Canadians to help us in our mission to reach the world’s most vulnerable children.

You have done just that. In 2015, UNICEF offices, like ours in Canada, contributed a record $1.154 billion to UNICEF’s work with children. That money came from four million monthly pledge donors, who contributed an average of $15 per month. I believe the success of our results affirm the trust that you, our public, have in our work and in our ability to achieve results for children.

An optimistic outlook thanks to new opportunities

Exciting times are ahead for UNICEF. New global partnerships with corporate giants like Philips, Louis Vuitton, Lego and La Caixa, mean we will be able to reach even more people and, more importantly, save more lives.

We may not be able to bring an end to the refugee and migrant crisis overnight. And we will never be able to take away the pain of any parent who has lost a child in the long journeys they have made to escape violence and try to make a new, safer life for themselves.

But what we can do is keep fighting; keep working towards the goal of giving every child a fair chance in life. That is why the UNICEF Executive Board members have gathered here this week, to see how we can keep taking our work to the next level, and keep saving lives.

It has been a reaffirming reminder of the global family to which we all belong.

I urge you to join us.

Related:

Session documents from 2-4 February 2016

Annual reports of Executive Board sessions from past years