Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Thomas Duffy at the Opening of the WFP Executive Board

Rome, Italy, 27 February 2019 Executive Board Meeting (EB1) Photo: WFP/Giulio Napolitano

February 25, 2019   As Drafted

Rome, Italy, 25 February 2019Executive Board Meeting, Photo: WFP/Giulio Napolitano

We warmly welcome Ambassador Hisham Badr as the new President of the Executive Board and express our deep appreciation to outgoing President Zoltan Kalman for his steady leadership and to our fellow outgoing Bureau members for their dedication to the work of WFP.  As we relinquish the List D Convener Role, we thank you all for your collaboration and support over the past year and look forward to working with Germany as the incoming List D Convener, ably backed by Switzerland.

Our heartfelt thanks go also to the Board Secretary, Harriet Spanos, who is unmatched in her service to the Bureau and to the Executive Board.  Harriet, we look forward to continued engagement with you.

Executive Director Beasley, as you have consistently reminded the world, the number of people who are hungry, malnourished, and suffering from conflict continues to rise.  We applaud your unstinting efforts and your willingness to take — as you did in Yemen — a strong and principled stand to best ensure that relief is directed and reaches those who most need it.

We would also like to highlight the key role WFP food assistance continues to play in the Ebola response.  WFP continues to apply its hard-won knowledge and experience from the West Africa Ebola crisis of 2014.  The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) is transporting and warehousing vital medical supplies and personal protective equipment for WHO and other front-line agencies working to contain the deadly outbreak.  We look forward to the update on UNHAS later this week.

We welcome WFP’s commitment to continually improve its internal processes.  This is critical to support the historically high level and tempo of response that WFP is called on to provide.  Any lapses in that level of response will be counted in lives.  We appreciate WFP’s efforts to revisit its organizational structure to ensure that the organization is even more responsive to the needs of vulnerable people.  We ask that WFP look carefully at what has made the organization strong to ensure that crucial capacities and confidence-inspiring transparency are retained.  We look forward to management’s close collaboration with the Executive Board on current and future re-organization initiatives.

We encourage WFP to make good use of the recently completed Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) assessment.  The findings from this report are a valuable, evidence-based resource that will help WFP with improving organizational learning and effectiveness.

We look forward to working with WFP on revisions to the Charter of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).  As a Board member, the United States hopes to adopt a new approach and approve a strengthened Charter at the upcoming Annual Session, in light of UN guidance on governing body responsibility for oversight.

We note the report of the Ombudsman.  It signifies progress, but indicates that more work needs to be done to develop the open, supportive, and nurturing environment required of a premier emergency response organization.

Finally, we applaud your promotion of school feeding and the steps taken by WFP’s school feeding unit to expand the number of children receiving daily meals.  We also appreciate WFP’s efforts to help countries develop national school meals programs and look forward to continued collaboration in this area.