Global alliances for the International Conference on Population and Development
Project title: Global alliances for the ICPD
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2013 to 2018
Development goals such as eradicating poverty, reducing inequalities, promoting resilient economies, conserving natural resources and mitigating climate change cannot be achieved unless demographic changes are taken into consideration. Population growth, aging, youth bulge, migration and urbanisation are trends presenting many partner countries with increasing challenges, for instance with regard to providing health services and education, establishing social security systems, and employment.
These issues were already discussed in 1994 at the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. Within the Cairo Programme of Action (PoA), objectives were formulated and adopted for sustainable, human rights-based and gender-sensitive population policies. The PoA recognised for the first time the right of every individual to sexual and reproductive health. However, key aspects of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) – including sexual self-determination, sex education and safe abortion – are still highly contentious issues within international negotiations, which impedes realisation of the goals.
Cross-regional networks and alliances contribute to advancing in particular the human rights-based and gender-sensitive objectives of the Cairo Programme of Action.
The project promotes the building of regional and cross-regional alliances and networks designed to provide policy support for the Cairo Programme of Action. To this end, it supports dialogues and agenda setting within international processes, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, on issues concerning sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as population dynamics. The project’s activities include:
- Promoting dialogue on SRHR issues among like-minded governments in order to develop common positions and strategies for negotiations within the European Union and at the United Nations
- Supporting dialogue and exchange forums for regional and cross-regional alliances of different stakeholders
- Cofinancing cross-regional multi-stakeholder platforms in order to support the formulation of strategic and evidence-based policy recommendations. These include the High Level Task Force for the ICPD and the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Post-2015 World
- Strengthening regional networks of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and parliamentarians in Africa and Asia to help them support coherent national, regional and international positions by their governments.
In collaboration with its partners, the project helped to ensure that the issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights were enshrined within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In key international processes coordination of the partners was improved and a common strategic approach was adopted. As a result, the outcome documents of the corresponding United Nations functional commissions contain common positions on SRHR that are shared by Germany and other countries.
Diplomatic consultations and formats for strategic dialogue have increased stakeholder awareness of controversial issues such as comprehensive sexuality education for youth, and have expanded the scope for action. High-level meetings have served to communicate important political signals, for instance the side event organised jointly by Germany and its partners Malawi and Tanzania on the occasion of the special session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2014.
Conferences such as the annual International Dialogue on Population and Sustainable Development in Berlin, where experts from governments, civil society, the academic and research community and the private sector discuss SRHR and devise strategies for common action, have made a crucial contribution to joint learning and the networking of stakeholders.
Successful alliance building has also been promoted by the High Level Task Force for ICPD, which is supported by the project. Among other things, this independent body of experts initiated multiple cross-regional joint statements by states on SRHR issues in preparation for the Sustainable Development Goals, with up to 58 governments participating.
Activities financed by the project for African and Asian parliamentarians and non-governmental organisations have demonstrably enhanced their monitoring function and presence within international processes.