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
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.