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The Way Forward

The Way Forward

The tenth anniversary of the ICPD is an opportunity for governments and the international community to review implementation efforts, renew pledges and identify priorities and remaining challenges. Regional reviews and responses to UNFPA’s global survey have confirmed that countries have made significant progress, and are strongly committed to further action.

With its comprehensive approach linking population and development—including environmental protection and the management of urban and rural growth—gender equality, and reproductive health and rights, the Programme of Action continues to offer an essential blueprint for development efforts in the coming decade.

Recent commitments by the United Nations and donors to poverty reduction strategies and the Millennium Development Goals (including action to reduce maternal mortality and stem the HIV/AIDS pandemic) offer a real chance to generate the additional political will and resources that will be needed to fully implement the Cairo consensus.

The ICPD goal of universal access to reproductive health care by 2015 is an essential condition for meeting most of the MDGs. It is critical to ensure that resources and actions needed for reproductive health are not overlooked when funding priorities are set. Donor support in this sector is only about half the level that the ICPD agreed on, and needs continue to increase.

Additionally, funding is needed for integrated, multisectoral programmes. This approach, at the heart of the vision of the ICPD, contrasts with the sector-by-sector (and within health, disease-bydisease) programming approaches that the orientation of the MDGs has facilitated.

Investments in better reproductive health have a proven high return. More funding is needed, in particular, to increase the availability of voluntary family planning services, to expand access to emergency obstetric care and other safe motherhood interventions, and to dramatically scale up HIV/AIDS prevention efforts as part of an intensified response to the pandemic. Special efforts are needed to reach adolescents and young people, and those displaced by wars and natural disasters.

It is also important to reinforce other fundamental ICPD conclusions: development plans and policies need to address population dynamics and its link with reproductive health, and their impact on prospects for sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction; communities and beneficiaries must be involved in shaping and evaluating programmes; and interventions must be carried out in partnership with civil society and be culturally sensitive.

Ten years ago, the ICPD Programme of Action began by noting that the world was “at a defining moment in the history of international cooperation”, an unparalleled chance to advance human well-being by linking development to population, women’s advancement and reproductive health. Today’s challenges —including security concerns, the continuing spread of HIV/AIDS, and persistent poverty alongside unprecedented prosperity—make it all the more imperative to carry out the Cairo agenda so its dream of a better future can be realized.

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