Closing remarks, 54th Session of the Commission on Population and Development

23 April 2021

Remarks by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem at the closing of the 54th Session of the Commission on Population and Development, 23 April 2021.


Mr. Chairperson,
Distinguished delegates, ​​
Civil Society colleagues,
Dear friends,

Congratulations on this successful session of the Commission on Population and Development.

It has been good to meet together again in person, albeit in a restricted format. It is reassuring to see Member States in the room, and I look forward to seeing our civil society partners back here soon as well.

I am most heartened that the Commission has adopted a meaningful, action-oriented outcome by consensus, reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 and food insecurity on women and girls, and on sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

My appreciation to Member States for rallying together in consensus on the importance of food security and nutrition to accelerate implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals.

I am also encouraged by the in-depth discussions this week in the plenary. The welcome outcome reflects the reality that much more brings us together than keeps us apart.

The vital work of this Commission is integral to the broader work of the Economic and Social Commission and of the General Assembly. It is similarly vital to overall progress towards the realization of the 2030 Agenda.

It is essential, as we move forward, and as the world continues to grapple with the impacts of the pandemic, that our march to fulfill the aims of the ICPD Programme of Action continues.

As Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” This is as true today as ever.

On behalf of all of us at UNFPA, I thank our distinguished Chair, His Excellency Ambassador Yemdaogo Eric Tiare of Burkina Faso, for his vision, adept leadership and engagement, which were instrumental to a positive outcome for CPD54 this week.

May I also thank the other members of the Bureau for their dedication and commitment over the past year, in particular the representatives of Lebanon and Romania, Mr. Nizar Kaddouh and Ms. Cristina Popescu,  whose leadership, experience, and perseverance made this outcome possible.

I thank the United Nations DESA Population Division for their stewardship of the Commission, and I acknowledge with gratitude the contributions of my dedicated UNFPA colleagues to the success of this year’s session.

And allow me to thank all of you, distinguished representatives and delegates of the Commission, for your hard work and active participation in the deliberations in the run up to, and during, this session.

Your dedication to virtual negotiations, even through mealtimes, family time, and often late into the night, was much appreciated indeed.

We should reflect upon the national experiences shared during the general debate this week. We must recognize the deep adverse impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda.

It is time now to work together to build back better, stronger and greener.

It is my sincere hope that at our next session, which will consider the theme “Population and sustainable development, in particular sustained and inclusive economic growth,” we will be able to meet - in person - together with  civil society and youth partners in the room.

On behalf of UNFPA and the UN system, I affirm our commitment to continue to be your foremost partner in the full achievement of the ICPD Programme of Action, on which the success of the 2030 Agenda depends.

At UNFPA, we continue to set our sights upon three ambitious aims for 2030, as elaborated in our vision for our forthcoming Strategic Plan 2022-2025:

Zero unmet need for family planning,

Zero preventable maternal deaths, and

Zero violence and harmful practices against women and girls, including an end to child marriage and female genital mutilation.


All predicated upon a foundation of data and evidence for optimal decision making.

Let’s build on this week’s success and the broad-based momentum collectively generated at the 2019 Nairobi Summit to accelerate the promise of ICPD25.

Mr. Chairperson, Distinguished delegates, dear participants,

The unfinished business of the ICPD Programme of Action remains.

Millions upon millions of women and girls are still waiting for the world’s promises to be fulfilled, and we will not stand silent as we see progress on our shared goals slip away.

Women and girls must not wait a moment longer.

It’s time for urgent action, as we ramp up our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Thank you once again.

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