U.S. Statement at the World Food Program – Executive Board First Regular Session February 18-19, 2013

Thank you, Mr. President.

I’d like to begin by congratulating you, along with the newly elected members of the Executive Board Bureau.  The United States looks forward to working closely with all of you to strengthen the World Food Program and collectively advance our efforts against hunger.

This morning the United States would like to focus on three broad areas: strengthening the institution, gender and partnership.

Over the past ten months, WFP has initiated a number of institutional changes under the leadership of Executive Director Cousin that will better equip the institution to meet the challenges of the coming years.  The United States lends our full support for these efforts and commends staff and management for their commitment to building a more effective institution that is better able to respond to global hunger needs and more accountable to the world it serves.   Among these efforts are three mutually reinforcing work streams that deserve recognition:  the Fit for Purpose initiative, efforts to improve monitoring and evaluation, and advances in oversight and accountability.

We appreciate the professionalism and commitment of all WFP staff working to advance the Fit for Purpose initiative, recognizing that the transition has been by no means painless.  We are grateful to Executive Director Cousin for her updates to the Executive Board on Fit for Purpose and her frequent communication and transparency on staff reassignments and salary policies.   It is with pleasure that we welcome new WFP staff.  We look forward to working with you.

We also applaud Executive Director Cousin for carrying out a staff survey in the midst of WFP’s reorganization.  This practice is good corporate policy and should be a routine part of the overall monitoring and evaluation culture and function that WFP is working to strengthen.  In addition to allowing staff to provide feedback and guidance to the institution, practices like these contribute to WFP’s accountability and improved reporting accuracy on performance.

Accountability is a hallmark of effective public institutions, and we are pleased with the Board’s enhanced oversight role in approving the appointment of WFP’s Director of the Oversight Office and Inspector General.  Looking ahead in this session’s agenda, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Suresh Sharma for his leadership, professionalism and cooperation during his tenure as Director of the Oversight office and Inspector General.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are paramount to WFP’s work.  We commend the measures taken so far by Executive Director Cousin to elevate and integrate gender at WFP, and appreciate WFP’s continued support of women in the Joint Program on Accelerating Progress toward Economic Empowerment of Rural Women in partnership with UN Women, FAO, IFAD and WFP.  However, though WFP deserves credit for this work and for being the first of the Rome-based agencies to have an approved gender policy, we were disappointed to learn that WFP is lagging behind in nine of fifteen indicators under the UN gender sector-wide approach which aims to mainstream a gender perspective into all policies and programs in the UN system.  That said, we applaud the decision to establish a standalone Gender unit reporting to the Deputy Executive Director and expect that this decision and management’s commitment will allow the organization to make rapid and substantial progress against these indicators.

In addition to management-focused work to improve WFP, we would also like to acknowledge and encourage WFP’s outward-facing efforts.  WFP cannot successfully fulfill its mandate without actively seeking and entering into mutually beneficial partnerships at every level, and so we are pleased to acknowledge the many ways that WFP is doing this, including: with small holder farmers through Purchase for Progress; with civil society organizations to reach vulnerable people in conflict areas; with new donors to strengthen WFP pipelines in places like Syria; with the Committee on Food Security and other partners to advance a global development agenda and post-2015 framework; and with the Transformative Agenda to improve global humanitarian response.

To this last example:  The aims and much of the approach of the Transformative Agenda should be seen not only in level three crises, but in all humanitarian emergencies.  We appreciate WFP’s commitment and implementation of the Agenda, and urge WFP’s continued leadership within the humanitarian system to realize the aims and approach of the Agenda in every humanitarian response.   This effort to improve leadership, coordination, efficiency and accountability needs our collective support.

Another area where WFP is partnering with others to advance a global development agenda is resilience.  The United States supports WFP’s resilience work with host-countries, UN agencies and other stakeholders in countries and regions emerging from localized food crises. We look forward to the upcoming Sahel event here in Rome and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development event in Djibouti later this week as good opportunities to advance resilience.

I would like to close by thanking WFP for their hard work and dedication around the world… and yes, also in Rome.  WFP is an invaluable partner in the fight against hunger, and particularly in emergencies, around the world.  As with other emergencies, WFP’s valiant efforts to help displaced people in and around Syria is saving lives and helping to reduce the human cost in a tragic conflict.

Thank you.