The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

Statement by Grete Faremo to the UNOPS Executive Board

Under-Secretary-General Faremo delivers statement to the 2020 Second Regular Session of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board, held virtually.

Our world has fundamentally changed. It has implications for the future of our work. We need to redefine leadership and how it works in a virtual world. Adapt our skills and organizational cultures, and scale up our technology. We need to be more flexible to address challenges quicker and better.

Grete Faremo - UNOPS Executive Director

Ms. Faremo spoke to UNOPS commitment to governments and partners in these unprecedented times. As of today, the organization is projected to deliver over $400 million worth of projects addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. These projects span 50 countries and are funded by some 40 partners. They will help strengthen national health systems and mitigate the negative socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.  

To illustrate this Ms. Faremo spoke to UNOPS work in Ethiopia where, with funding from the World Bank, the organization is helping to establish satellite connectivity for close to 1,500 schools across the country – to help students resume learning and to sit their national exams online. In Serbia, with funding from the European Union, UNOPS will issue more than 1 million euros worth of grants to public healthcare institutions across the country, to cover salaries for medical and support workers in COVID-19 hotspots. 

With countries around the world faced with fewer resources and urgent need, Ms. Faremo noted the imperative of a recovery that goes hand-in-hand with climate action and gender equality. One that puts the world back on the right path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and creating a world that is more equal, inclusive and sustainable.  

“COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives and left unprecedented damage. It could knock $9 trillion off the global economy over the next two years. It has led to the loss of an equivalent of 400 million full-time jobs. Half a billion people could be pushed into poverty [...]

The pandemic has left us with no choice but to drastically change our ways,” said Ms. Faremo. 

Ms. Faremo urged the global community to build on lessons learned and move towards a more transformational approach to public procurement. To improve infrastructure and supply chains to be more resilient, to be more able to withstand shocks, to adapt and to scale. 

In practice, UNOPS is working hard to help support governments build capacity of their public procurement institutions, for longer-term benefits. In particular, Ms. Faremo noted that a ground-breaking partnership between UNOPS, the government of Mexico and WHO will be a game-changer in Mexico’s efforts to improve transparency and value for money in the health sector. 

Ms. Faremo especially recognized the devastating social and economic impacts that the pandemic has had on women and stressed the importance of putting gender equality at the centre of recovery efforts. 

To conclude, Ms. Faremo stated: “UNOPS stands ready – more determined and stronger than ever before – to support the world vision, together with our partners, towards a better world for all.” 

Read the full speech here. 

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