Board commends Executive Director, UNOPS progress

NEW YORK – UNOPS Executive Board celebrated the strength of the organization at its first regular session of 2014 and thanked retiring Executive Director Jan Mattsson for his outstanding service, vision and leadership.

The statements came after Mr Mattsson gave his final speech to the Board, in which he outlined the significant progress UNOPS had made during the almost eight years he has led the organization. Mr Mattsson will leave UNOPS on 31 March, retiring from the UN after 30 years of service.

Peter Thomson, President of the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS said: "Mr Mattsson took charge of an organization facing severe problems. He is leaving an organization that is strong, focused and firmly established as a central resource for the United Nations and its partners."

"I have seen how UNOPS has supported its partners in some of the most challenging environments imaginable, by delivering tangible benefits on the ground. UNOPS gets things done," he added.

Mr Thomson’s views were echoed by other Board members. United States delegate Ms Terri Robl said: "UNOPS as an entity has had one of the most dynamic evolutions in the UN system, always focusing on results and proving its worth by developing practical approaches and implementing a variety of challenging initiatives."

In a separate letter to Mr Mattsson, United States Permanent Representative to the UN Ms Samantha Power congratulated the Executive Director, stating that under his leadership: "UNOPS has become a leader in transparency and accountability, and a pioneer of sustainability among UN agencies."

Representing the African Group of countries, Board Vice President, H.E. Mr Tuvako Nathaniel Manongi from Tanzania said: "We particularly wish to note, with a great sense of appreciation that during his term of service, UNOPS has demonstrated great leadership in UN reform and attained world class standards which are worthy of emulation across the board."

In his statement, Mr Mattsson remarked on the challenges faced by UNOPS during his time as Executive Director, including the need to return the organization to a sound financial footing and install a strong, accountable governance structure. He said these had been achieved and the organization had a clear path forward as outlined in the Strategic Plan 2014 – 2017. The plan emphasizes sustainability, focus and excellence, and highlights the need to develop national capacity, Mr Mattsson said.

"The guidance and engagement of the Board has been crucial in the transformation of UNOPS," said Mr Mattsson, extending his thanks to UNOPS personnel for their support and dedication in bringing forward this change: "It has been an honour to have worked with so many talented colleagues during the past eight years."

In a video statement to the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon thanked Mr Mattsson for the contribution he has made in his many roles with the UN. He also praised UNOPS.

"I have seen around the world the effective work that UNOPS has carried out in support of peacebuilding, humanitarian and development operations, often in some of the most challenging environments," he said.

"Under Jan Mattsson’s leadership UNOPS has developed world class expertise in sustainable project management, procurement and infrastructure," he added.