U.N. Report Highlights Concerns About Population-Related Activities Funding

Financial support for population-related activities worldwide has not significantly increased since 2008, according to a report (.pdf) from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the U.N. Commission on Population and Development (CPD), Inter Press Service reports. The CPD is meeting this week.

“The population package in need of funding consists of four components: family planning; reproductive health; preventing sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS; and basic research, data and population and development policy analysis,” according to the news service. In 2008, population funding reached $10.4 billion, which was an “historic high because it was the first time that population assistance by Western donors had surpassed 10 billion dollars,” according to the report. However funding “stalled in 2009,” reaching $10.39 billion and “remaining virtually at the same level” as the year before. “The funding levels for 2010 have been estimated slightly higher, at 10.5 billion dollars, with a projected figure of 10.8 billion dollars in 2011,” IPS writes, noting that those numbers are considered large enough to fully implement the global population agenda (Deen, 4/13). 

The report “states that family planning and demographic change alone reduced poverty by one seventh in developing countries between 1960 and 2000, and could produce another one-seventh drop in poverty levels by 2015. … [I]f existing requirements for modern contraceptives were met, nearly 100,000 maternal deaths could be averted and unintended pregnancies could be cut by 71 percent,” the U.N. News Centre writes (4/11).

“In his 18-page report … the secretary-general blames low funding on the global financial crisis” and predicts that funding for population-related activities in 2010 and 2011 could be even lower than the projections. “As a result, the Programme of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo, is in jeopardy, the secretary-general cautioned … At the same time, he said, even the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which incorporate the ICPD Programme of Action, may fall short of the targets – specifically in reducing maternal mortality and achieving universal access to reproductive health, including family planning.”

The report notes that “developing countries themselves were able to raise about 29.8 billion dollars in 2009, primarily from domestic sources” (4/13).

At the recent opening of the CPD session, Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), said, “We need to keep pushing to make universal access to reproductive health a reality.” He continued, “Investing in the health and rights of women and young people is not an expenditure; it is an investment in our future” (4/11).

The State Department’s Margaret Pollack, a senior adviser on population issues, also addressed the CPD. Pollack reflected on global developments related to population issues and highlighted U.S. efforts, according to a State Department transcript of her remarks (4/11).

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