24 February 2021
Distinguished Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for joining us today. I am very proud to officially launch UNODC’s Strategic Vision for Africa 2030.
It is an initiative fueled by our belief that we need to go above and beyond business as usual to meet Africa’s needs. It is also an important extension of UNODC’s Strategy 2021-2025.
As an African woman myself, I am keenly aware of Africa’s promise. I am also aware of the complex obstacles holding Africa back, which have only been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Poverty continues to ravage the continent, with an estimated 489 million people living below the poverty line. The pandemic threatens to push up to 40 million more into extreme poverty.
African women also face compounded challenges. They are more likely to be unemployed in some parts of the continent, and many have to rely on the volatile informal sector for employment.
Young girls are more likely to be denied education, while both women and girls are at higher risk of gender-based violence and exploitation.
Vital resources that should go to fund essential services are siphoned away, with almost 90 billion US dollars of illicit financial flows leaving Africa every year. This is close to 4 percent of the continent’s GDP. It is also nearly half the amount needed to close the annual financing gap we face to achieve the SDGs in Africa.
Drugs, crime, corruption and terrorism bleed the continent of its resources, and curtail its ability to overcome urgent challenges.
Through the years, Africa has taken great strides in addressing these issues; I am immensely proud of the work that UNODC has done to support countries across the continent in improving their responses.
But now is the time to go further. The pandemic has underlined our need for timely, agile, and comprehensive responses.
Our Strategic Vision represents a transformative approach to our work. It aims to adopt an integrated, people-centred, and human-rights based approach to empower African societies against drugs and crime.
The Strategic Vision will be guided and supported by our implementation of UNODC’s Strategy 2021-2025. Enhancing efficiency, innovation and accountability across our Office will provide a strong foundation for our work in Africa.
By building resilience and promoting the rule of law, we can help African countries live up to their aspirations for sustainable development.
I will now present to you the key components of our Vision for the next ten years:
The Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 are more important now than ever before. The Decade of Action is a real opportunity to devote unprecedented efforts to securing Africa’s future.
UNODC’s cross-cutting mandate covers issues ranging from drug control, to combating illicit trafficking, to prevention of terrorism and corruption. Our work contributes directly to the sustainable development commitments adopted by both the UN and the African Union.
UNODC’s core value proposition is embodied in three contributions: strong normative and policy support; in-depth research; and tailored technical assistance.
We aim to enhance our support to Africa in all three areas.
We will work to increase normative and policy support to African Member States, and step up efforts to promote ratification and implementation of international legal instruments.
We will also work to strengthen the research capacities of African institutions, and support the establishment of data and analysis hubs.
Last but not least, we will seek to elevate the quality of technical assistance and capacity-building that we provide to African Member States, while supporting South-South cooperation and empowering agents of change.
Our Strategic Vision is built on five key Investment Areas:
First, we will promote health across the continent through balanced drug control and effective responses to drug-related challenges. We will improve protection from falsified medical products, particularly in the post-pandemic phase, while working in parallel to promote access to controlled medicine for those who need it.
Second, we will help protect Africa’s people from organized crime, terrorism and violence.
We will pay special attention to the needs of children, women and youth, who are too often the victims of different forms of violence and exploitation.
We will also work with African institutions to protect the continent’s people from the threats posed by new technologies.
Third, we will step up our role in the protection of Africa’s resources and livelihoods. We will help develop Africa’s capacities to safeguard its natural and cultural wealth from criminal networks.
This includes its forests, wildlife, oceans and fisheries as well as precious metal and cultural property.
Fourth, we will elaborate new efforts to protect African communities and institutions from corruption and economic crimes. We will scale up our efforts to prevent illicit financial flows and money-laundering, and help Member States recover illicitly obtained assets, while simultaneously promoting integrity and accountability at all levels.
And fifth, we will step up support to African Member States in making their criminal justice systems more effective.
We will assist in building stronger and more accountable institutions, improving prison management and rehabilitation of prisoners, and fostering stronger law enforcement and cross-border cooperation.
Across all of our Investment Areas, our efforts will be steered by a number of mutually-reinforcing change enablers, in synergy with the UNODC Strategy 2021-2025:
Stronger partnerships are very much needed to implement this Vision. Our partnership with African Member States will be at the heart of our implementation. We will also work closely with other UN partners, in the context of the UN Development System reform, and taking advantage of our new UNODC Partnership Framework.
In addition, we will cooperate closely with the African Union, sub-regional organizations, international financial institutions, and donors. We will also explore new avenues of partnership with the private sector, civil society and academia.
The role of women will also be essential in our implementation. We will identify new opportunities to harness the potential of women in Africa, and to work towards the full inclusion of women and girls in the criminal justice system.
Africa is also home to nearly 420 million youth aged between 15 and 35, and their potential presents limitless opportunity. The empowerment of children and youth will be a key driving force against the impact of drugs and crime, and towards transforming Africa.
Prevention will be a cross-cutting priority across the Strategic Vision. We will work to enhance Africa’s preventive capacities and mitigate threats at an early stage. To promote prevention, we will enhance collaboration with community- and faith-based organizations as well as schools, academic institutions and the media.
Innovation will be crucial in employing the potential of rapid technological development. By partnering with Africa’s vibrant private sector, scientific and academic community, and civil society, we will invest in innovation-based approaches.
We will strive to promote the use of digital tools to combat crime and the impact of drugs.
And finally, eliminating discrimination and stigma will be a vital gateway to our success.
These obstacles continue to hinder people’s access to much-needed services, and constitute a barrier to effective policies and responses. We will develop our approach to address the impact of discrimination on those most marginalized.
As we seek to implement this Strategic Vision, UNODC will invest in more effective communication and outreach, and endeavour to tell Africa’s story. We will aim to ensure that all stakeholders are fully informed of needs, priorities, plans, and progress.
I am very proud of the vision we have formulated in close consultation with African Member States, donors, and other partners and stakeholders. I can assure you that UNODC will spare no effort in bringing this transformative vision to life during the decade of action.
Our ambitious outlook in adopting new and innovative approaches to our work in Africa needs to be matched by equally ambitious implementation on the ground.
To our African Member States, you will be our partners on the ground, and we will look to you for guidance on how to implement this vision in a manner that meets your real needs.
Our donors will also be instrumental in putting the Strategic Vision in motion, as we seek to mobilize funds from a wider spectrum of sources. In this regard, we will be developing bankable initiatives that will be continental or sub-regional in scope, addressing cross-cutting elements of the Strategic Vision.
I call on all of you to pledge your support to our Strategic Vision at this decisive time, as we look to kickstart a new phase of support for Africa.
We do not just dream of a better future for Africa; we owe it to Africa’s people.
Working together, we can drive real change against the challenges holding Africa back, and put the continent’s promising future in the hands of its people.