Closing remarks by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem at the 56th session of the Commission on Population and Development

14 April 2023

Mr. Chair,
Distinguished delegates, ​​
Civil Society friends,
Dear young people,

May I congratulate you on the conclusion of the 56th session of the Commission on Population and Development. We saw considerable engagement from Member States, civil society and other partners, which reinforces the importance of the implementation of the ICPD Agenda for all stakeholders. 

UNFPA regrets the absence of Member State consensus outcome on the theme of this year’s Commission. Yet, your statements on national experiences and discussions over the past few weeks were highly informative and very valuable. They highlighted the importance of quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all, particularly as we work to address educational setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNFPA was pleased to be able to support your noble efforts, as you reflected on the need for sustained investments in school infrastructure, digital access, qualified teachers, and the importance of quality education for women’s empowerment, healthier lives and economic growth. You emphasized the power of education in combating gender-based violence and harmful practices. You also debated and discussed the critical role of comprehensive sexuality education that enables young people to protect and advocate for their health, their well-being and their dignity.

We are pleased with the adoption of the decisions on the Special theme for the fifty-eighth session of the CPD on “Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages”. As the world continues to adapt and recover from multiple interlocking crises, the importance of healthy lives and well-being are at the forefront of our minds. The upcoming review of the Declaration on Universal Health Coverage during the 78th General Assembly will raise many issues and concerns which we will be able to further reflect on in the CPD of 2025.

On behalf of all of us at UNFPA, I thank our distinguished Chair, His Excellency Ambassador Gheorghe Leucă of Moldova, for his vision, his leadership, and his active engagement. We commend the dedication and the skill of Bureau members, and in particular the co-facilitators Indonesia and Mexico.

I would also like to recognize the UN DESA Population Division for their stewardship of the Commission. Allow me to also express gratitude to my own dedicated UNFPA colleagues for their contributions to this year’s session. 

On this note, I would like to recognize Dr. Rachel Snow, outgoing Chief of the Population and Development Branch in UNFPA’s Technical Division. She has led on the development of the Secretary-General’s reports for the CPD for the past 8 years. She retires at the end of this month, and she is present for her last CPD session. Around the world, she has been acknowledged for her passion, dedication and the way she has shared her knowledge and expertise. This has been a tremendous asset to UNFPA and she will be dearly missed.

I would like to end on a note of thanks to the distinguished representatives, delegates and observers of the Commission, for your own hard work and your active participation in the deliberations in the run up to and during this session. Your dedication and time spent in the in-person negotiations is very much valued and appreciated indeed.

It is my hope that these discussions and the learnings will contribute substantially to the upcoming 2023 High Level Political Forum and SDG Summit, as well as to preparations for the 2024 Summit of the Future.

This commission is the guardian of the ICPD Programme of Action, which has bettered millions and millions of lives around the world. It’s mandate is clear: the rights, health and well-being of individuals, and especially women and girls, are at the heart of our collective aspirations for people-centred sustainable development.

As we gather next year to discuss the implementation of this landmark document on the occasion of the ICPD’s 30th anniversary, I recognize the work already underway in many countries and regions to review the implementation of the ICPD, and I look forward to substantive reflections on how to accelerate this agenda in the Decade of Action – as we move swiftly to achieve our common goals by 2030. We also look forward to discussions on the General Assembly’s commemoration of ICPD30 next year.

On behalf of UNFPA and the UN system, allow me reaffirm our commitment to partner with you to support the achievement of the ICPD Programme of Action, upon which the success of the 2030 Agenda also depends. 

Let us continue to build on the substantive discussions held at the CPD in recent years, and on the momentum generated with civil society at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 to accelerate the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.

We do have a collective responsibility to finish the unfinished business of the ICPD Programme of Action and to fulfill the hopes and dreams and shared vision for a future in which no young person, and no one indeed should be left behind.

Thank you once again.

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