Global alliances for the International Conference on Population and Development

Project description

Project title: Global Alliances for the Cairo Programme of Action
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2013 to 2019


Sustainable development goals such as combating poverty, eradicating inequalities, fostering resilient economic activity, conserving natural resources and taking climate action cannot be achieved without bearing demographic change in mind. Growing and ageing populations, youth bulges, migration and urbanisation are population trends that present increasing challenges for many partner countries in areas such as the provision of health services, the establishment of social security systems, and education and employment. The consequences can have a negative impact on the development of an entire country; women, girls and young people are particularly affected.

These issues were already discussed back in 1994 at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. At this conference, the Member States of the United Nations (UN) adopted the Cairo Programme of Action, which formulated goals for sustainable population policy that is guided by human rights and gender equality. This programme recognised the right of every human being to sexual and reproductive health services for the first time. However, in international negotiations there are strongly differing positions on central aspects of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) such as sexual self-determination, sex education and abortion, and this jeopardises the implementation of the Cairo Programme of Action in the long term.


Supraregional networks and alliances contribute to a continuation of the human-rights-based and gender-sensitive goals of the Cairo Programme of Action.


To provide political support for the Cairo Programme of Action, the project promotes the formation of alliances and networks. In this context, it provides targeted support for dialogue and agenda-setting in international processes (such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the follow-on processes to the International Conference on Population and Development and the World Conference on Women) relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights and population dynamics. The activities include:

  • Promoting dialogue between like-minded governments on the coordination of common positions and strategies for negotiations at EU and UN levels;
  • Supporting dialogue and exchange forums for regional and supraregional alliances between civil-society and state actors;
  • Cofinancing supraregional multi-stakeholder partnerships such as the High-Level Task Force for ICPD and the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights;
  • Strengthening regional networks involving civil-society organisations and parliamentarians. These include the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, the European Parliamentary Forum and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.


Together with its partners, the project helped to ensure that the issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights were enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Better coordination and a joint strategic approach among partners have been achieved in the most important international processes. As a result, the outcome documents of the relevant functional commissions of the UN contain positions on SRHR that are shared by Germany and other countries.

Diplomatic consultations and informal exchange formats have increased stakeholders’ awareness of controversial issues such as comprehensive sex education for young people. Supraregional alliances between like-minded states have been continuously expanded.

Conferences such as the annual International Dialogue on Population and Sustainable Development in Berlin encourage networking among stakeholders from various bodies. Experts from governments, civil society, research and the private sector discuss population issues and develop strategies for joint action on national, regional and global levels.
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 has initiated several supraregional joint statements by states on SRHR in preparation for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with up to 58 governments participating.