United Nations – The staff of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, was elated, relieved and encouraged by U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision last Friday to restore funding to the organization. The entire staff wishes to convey heartfelt thanks to the many supporters who saw the Fund through the last seven years.
Many recall the former administration’s decision to withhold funds allocated by Congress in 2002, and the pall it cast over the Fund’s future. A somber funding picture was presented to the 2002 Executive Board.
But because our friends from around the world rallied in support, the feared cuts in programming and services never materialized. Instead, UNFPA was able not only to continue its assistance to millions of women, men and young people around the world, but also to expand its operations. We are extremely grateful to the many countries, individuals, parliamentarians and organizations that have stood by us for the last seven years.
This support was both deep and wide: It included some of our largest donors who managed to give even more, as well as tens of thousands of individuals who sent in donations small and large. It was bolstered by strong political support from entities such as the European Union and by contributions from almost every country in the world.
Support came swiftly after the 2002 defunding announcement. That year, additional contributions from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands (which has been our largest contributor to core resources since 2000), Canada, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and New Zealand enabled UNFPA to continue its planned programme operations. Funding stability was improved by an increasing number of multi-year pledges.
By 2003, there was a substantial increase of regular income due to larger contributions from five major donors, namely Canada, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden. Favourable exchange rates also helped sustain programming.
A special tribute goes to the programme countries, which provide us with the largest donor base within the United Nations system, including those that contribute to their own country programmes in their national currencies. In 2006, we reached the 180 donor mark. In 2007, the number of countries that contributed to UNFPA achieved a record high of 182. Every single country in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America contributed to UNFPA resources, many with multi-year pledges – an unprecedented achievement.
We are also very grateful for the support of countries in conflict with dire humanitarian and development needs such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmmar and Somalia. These are powerful demonstrations of what the ICPD mandate means for the countries and a vote of confidence in UNFPA as a partner.
In the United States as well, many individuals, foundations and organizations redoubled their advocacy for and contributions to the Fund. Of special mention are Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Joe Crowley in the US Congress who have been stalwart champions and advocates for restored US funding; Ted Turner, Tim Wirth and the United Nations Foundation who have advocated for us and funded many programmes on the ground; and the dynamic US International Family Planning Coalition, comprising more than 40 organizations who have made restoration of US support one of their top advocacy goals.
Two American citizens, Jane Roberts and Lois Abraham, started the grassroots movement 34 Million Friends of UNFPA, mobilizing over $4 million in small contributions, and providing a compelling example of how ordinary citizens can make a difference. And Americans for UNFPA worked tirelessly to build support with the American people for the Fund’s mandate.
To all these supporters, and many more too numerous to mention, we thank you for your unwavering support when UNFPA needed it so much. We thank you for believing in the ICPD mandate that 179 countries adopted in Cairo in 1994 and for believing in UNFPA’s ability to carry it out. And we thank you on behalf of the millions of women, men and families who have been able to count on us.