The European Union (EU) is a staunch supporter of the ICPD vision and UNFPA's work to make this vision a reality. In addition to their political support, EU Member States support UNFPA by making contributions to core resources and thematic funds. In addition, the European Commission (EC) is an important source of co-financing for UNFPA. The EC supports various elements of our work:
Improving maternal health is the fifth Millennium Development Goal and the one furthest lagging behind in terms of progress. Since 2008, the EC and DFID have supported a UNFPA-led joint programme in Bangladesh aimed to accelerate progress towards the reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality. The EC also supports the implementation of the UNFPA programme of support for reproductive health in Niger and, in Zimbabwe, the EC is making a substantial financial contribution to a project to revitalize maternity waiting homes.
The EC has a long tradition of supporting reproductive health initiatives for young people. The EU/UNFPA Reproductive Health Initiative for Youth in Asia (RHIYA) aimed to build the capacity of local organizations and governments and create a supportive environment for addressing adolescent sexual and reproductive health. Building on the successful model of RHIYA, the EC and UNFPA collaborated on a Reproductive Health Initiative for young people in the South Caucasus and, in recent years, the EC supported the scaling up of comprehensive youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services in Zimbabwe and Malawi, and the establishment of comprehensive social services for young drug users in Ukraine.
Strengthening country capacity is critical to UNFPA's mission and key for achieving sustainable results. The joint EC/UNFPA/Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme aimed to help countries manage and improve the delivery of reproductive health care. This programme, which covered eight African and two Caribbean countries, included a regional component to address overall planning, management, advocacy, reporting and information exchange, and quality assurance.
In 2010, UNFPA and UNAIDS received a contribution from the EC for a joint project in seven countries in Southern Africa. This regional project aims to promote efficient and effective integration of sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV/AIDS policies, systems and services. Within the context of this project UNFPA is partnering with IPPF in the Integra Initiative. Preliminary lessons learned from the project were presented at the 2012 International AIDS Conference.
Access to reproductive health commodities is essential for achieving universal access to reproductive health. The Global Programme to Enhance Reproductive Health Commodity Security works closely with country governments to ensure access to a reliable supply of reproductive health commodities. The Global Programme provides financial and technical support to countries to procure and manage supplies of reproductive health commodities and strengthen their health systems. The EC has made a substantial contribution to the Global Programme for the biennium 2012-2013.
The EC is also one of the main donors of AccessRH. AccessRH is a UNFPA-managed reproductive health procurement and information service that aims to improve access to quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health commodities and reduce delivery times for low- and middle-income country government and non-governmental organization clients. AccessRH also offers accurate, up-to-date information on contraceptive orders and shipments for more than 140 countries through a website that is unique in the field.
The EC has in recent years supported census activities in Togo, Solomon Islands and Bangladesh and census activities are ongoing with EC support in Guinea Conakry, Niger, Zimbabwe, Mauretania and Sao Tome e Principe. The EC also contributes to other data-related projects implemented by UNFPA such as the Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey, the 'Primera Encuesta Nacional de Immigrantes' in the Dominican Republic, the Zimbabwe National Integrated Health Facility Assessment and the Population Estimation Survey in Somalia.
In Zimbabwe, the EC has supported the behavioural change component of Zimbabwe's national strategic plan on HIV and AIDS. The national strategy, which aims to reduce the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV infection, focuses on key drivers of the HIV epidemic, such as multiple concurrent sexual relationships, and addresses underlying factors for vulnerability, in particular gender roles and relations. In Turkey, the EU supported UNFPA's work with the government to combat violence against women. In Malawi, UNFPA and the EC are supporting the government to implement the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment programme, which aims to reduce gender inequalities between men, women, girls and boys and accelerate attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
Through its humanitarian aid department (DG ECHO), the EC supports a wide range of humanitarian relief interventions for vulnerable people in crisis situations around the world. In recent years, ECHO has supported several interventions of UNFPA that focus on the special needs of women and young people in emergency situations. In the Darfur region of Sudan, ECHO has helped UNFPA respond to gender-based violence and in Nepal, UNFPA delivered emergency reproductive health services to conflict-affected populations. ECHO also supported a joint UNFPA/UNICEF/UNHCR thematic programme aimed to build capacity on gender-based violence in 9 countries in the Arab, Asia and Africa regions. UNFPA currently implements ECHO-funded projects in Syria and Jordan aimed to provide sexual and reproductive health services to populations affected by the Syria crisis.
EU support - which is not only financial, but political and strategic as well - is essential to UNFPA's ability to carry forward the vision of reproductive health as the cornerstone of sustainable development.
To ensure close working relationships with its European supporters, UNFPA maintains three liaison offices in Europe, including the Brussels Office that allows for close working relationships with the institutions of the European Union.