ICPD at 15: People First - Accelerating Implementation of the Cairo Consensus on Population and Development

In 1994 in Cairo, at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), industrialized and developing countries forged an inspiring and farsighted Plan of Action (PoA) that

integrated a wide range of population, development and human rights issues into a blueprint for 20 years of action.

2009 marks the 15th anniversary of the ICPD and reminds us of the five years remaining to fulfill the commitments made at Cairo. UNFPA believes the ICPD at 15 is an opportunity to celebrate what has been accomplished, and at the same time to highlight the urgency for action. Given today's financial crisis and the risk of reduced funding for the implementation of ICPD, we should remind ourselves of the high costs of not implementing Cairo, and redouble our support and efforts to accelerate the implementation of the PoA that promotes prevention and cost-effective interventions.

ICPD at 15 is therefore very timely. Let's renew our commitments to the Cairo consensus. Let's acknowledge gaps and challenges, consolidate lessons learned over the last 15 years, and come up with priorities to focus on and practical recommendations for accelerating progress in the next five years.

A Plan for People: The Cairo Consensus placed individual human beings at the very heart of the development process. It argued that if needs for family planning and reproductive health care are met, along with other basic health and education services, then development and population stabilization will occur naturally, without coercion or control. And it made commitments for meeting those needs, so that individuals would have genuine choices about the spacing, timing and number of their children. The plan also acknowledged the central role of women and young people in the development process.

The programme was also firmly grounded in the affirmation of the human rights of all people and the need to empower women and to involve men. Cairo was one of the first international forums to acknowledge the fundamental role of women in development processes and to clarify the concept of reproductive rights. The PoA emphasized the centrality of reproductive health - which it defined as 'complete physical, mental and social wellbeing' in all areas related to the reproductive systems and processes. The often overlooked importance of this was recognized by the addition, in 2007, following directions of the 2005 World Summit, of universal access to reproductive health as one of the MDG targets. The implementation of the ICPD PoA substantially contributes to the achievement of the MDGs.

ICPD: Strategic underpinning for the Millennium Development Goals: The Cairo Consensus is fully aligned with and provided much of the groundwork for the MDG. While the two sets of commitments are mutually reinforcing and overlapping, the Cairo Consensus set forth a broad and comprehensive vision of development and its requirements that included many elements not covered in the eight MDGs. For instance, the Programme of Action agreed to at Cairo addressed the complex interrelationships between population, economic growth and sustainable development, as well as population distribution, climate change, urbanization, migration, data collection and analysis.

ICPD at 15, because so many people are counting on us: Throughout 2009, stocktaking of progress and challenges will be taking place, primarily at the regional and national levels, and various aspects of the ICPD will be addressed at various forums and events, by different partners and constituencies, throughout 2009 and beyond. ICPD at 15 is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitments and redouble efforts to implement the ICPD PoA; an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the linkages between ICPD and the MDGs, and of the essential contribution the ICPD has in achieving the MDGs; an opportunity to reflect on emerging issues and their relationship and impact on population issues.

An Update from UNFPA, August 2009

For more information, see the UNFPA website on ICPD at 15 or send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. '; document.write(''); document.write(addy_text17254); document.write('<\/a>'); //-->\n This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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  • Topics Article: Adolescents and Youth

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