UNFPA is not a large organization, yet the issues it addresses have a powerful impact on individual lives, families, communities, countries and the world as a whole.
As the leading multilateral agency on population and reproductive health, UNFPA plays a crucial role in making sure that population-poverty linkages and the ICPD rights-based agenda are integrated into national and international development and poverty-reduction plans.
To achieve its ambitious goals, UNFPA works in alliance with governments, other development partners and civil society to marshal a broader base of resources and support for key population policies and programmes.
UNFPA assists governments, at their request, to integrate population and reproductive health issues into their planning and policymaking. Information about a country's population, growth, characteristics, living conditions, spatial distribution and physical resources is vital for policy formulation, planning and implementation. For this reason, the collection and analysis of population and development data constitute a fundamental part of UNFPAs policy-related activities.
At the country level, UNFPA engages in policy dialogue on strategies to reduce poverty. It provides empirical evidence to show governments how population and reproductive health issues are linked to the achievement of the MDGs, how investments in gender equality and reproductive health pay off, and conversely, how failing to make these investments can impede efforts to reduce poverty.
On the regional and international level, UNFPA contributes to policy dialogue by organizing and participating in meetings and forums and publishing papers and reports. It also enriches these dialogues by supporting institutions and initiatives that conduct research and analysis in population and development matters.
Under the leadership of national authorities, work towards MDG targets provides a unique opportunity for joint programming between UN agencies and other development partners within the framework of the Millennium Declaration. Development funding is increasingly being directed through national and global frameworks such as Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSs) and Sector-wide Approaches (SWAps) in an effort to reduce duplication of efforts and channel assistance effectively.
The UN reform process has introduced a harmonized programming approach reflected in Common Country Assessments (CCAs) and UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) to bring greater coherence to the work of UN agencies in individual countries. UNFPA participates in all of these planning and policy frameworks, drawing upon its unique technical expertise and programming experience deeply rooted in the communities it serves.
Population dynamics and trends, which are closely linked to economic progress, must be taken into consideration if the eight MDGs are to be achieved. Demographic and population trends are strongly influenced by access to reproductive health and women's empowerment, key areas of UNFPA's work.
The linkages between reproductive health, population, womens empowerment and social progress are articulated in the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994, which guides UNFPA. In fact, the MDGs were based, in part, on the Cairo Consensus, and on some of the other major international agreements of the 1990s, including the Beijing Platform for Action.
One of UNFPA's important roles is to clarify, document and advocate for these linkages at the country level and make sure that population, gender and reproductive health issues are given full consideration in policymaking. One of the ways UNFPA achieves this is by participating in planning frameworks that developing countries and donors use to guide efforts to reduce poverty and effectively channel development assistance. In Nicaragua, five years of strategic policy dialogue between UNFPA and Government and key stakeholders resulted in population issues -- such as migration, demographic structure and spatial population distribution -- being incorporated into poverty reduction strategies.
The fund also participates in many regional and global forums for this purpose.In these and other policy dialogues, UNFPA uses its expertise and experience in the areas of population, gender and reproductive health to ensure that these fundamental issues are addressed.