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International Planned Parenthood Federation
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Submission Document: Download
  • Additional Document:

General Content

a) What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio+20, and what are the concrete proposals in this regard, including views on a possible structure of the Outcome document?

At the Earth Summit in 1992 it was agreed that population is inextricably linked to consumption patterns, production, environment and long-term sustainability. As the world?s population reaches 7 billion, the issue is more pressing than ever and contributes to the degradation of natural resources already under pressure due to climate changes. At the same time this increases the resilience of society?s most vulnerable populations, especially women and children. Therefore, the ability and right of women or couples to choose the number, timing and spacing of pregnancies is a pre-requisite for sustainable development.

It is our expectation that the Rio+20 Outcome document will include a strong focus on the inter-relationship between population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health and rights and sustainable development, especially seen in the context of the effects of climate change, with an emphasis on protecting and promoting the rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, of women and young people.

b) What are the comments, if any, on existing proposals: e.g., a green economy roadmap, framework for action, sustainable development goals, a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, or others?

It is important to create a comprehensive framework that captures all sustainability challenges facing the world. It is essential therefore, that SDGs include objectives for sustainable consumption and production in the global North, as well as for development issues in the global South. In specific regard to the goals and objectives focusing on the Global North, it is important to set targets that deal with unsustainable consumption and production patterns, as such targets are a prerequisite to enforce global transformation to a green and fair economy. This would also align itself to Agenda 21. In regard to the Global South, it is important to address the lack of implementation of universal rights for the world?s poor and marginalized populations. As we are approaching 2015 and the deadline for the MDGs, it is clear that many of the MDGs will not be met in the poorest countries. This is especially the case for MDG 5b ?Achieve universal access to reproductive health? which is the MDG furthest off track, but which at the same time is one of the most cost-effective health interventions for reaching sustainable development. Furthermore, it is important that the SDG Framework entails a clear inter-relationship between the social, economic and environmental pillars, and is seen in an adaptation perspective.
c) What are the views on implementation and on how to close the implementation gap, which relevant actors are envisaged as being involved (Governments, specific Major Groups, UN system, IFIs, etc.);

In agreement with the Declaration of the 64th Annual UN DPI/ NGO we call for full engagement and ?involvement of youth, women, and wider civil society in decision-making processes and partnerships, as stressed in Agenda 21, Section 3, is critical to the success of sustainable development initiatives?.
d) What specific cooperation mechanisms, partnership arrangements or other implementation tools are envisaged and what is the relevant time frame for the proposed decisions to be reached and actions to be implemented?

In agreement with the Declaration of the 64th Annual UN DPI/ NGO we call for full engagement and ?involvement of youth, women, and wider civil society in decision-making processes and partnerships, as stressed in Agenda 21, Section 3, is critical to the success of sustainable development initiatives?.
Specific Elements
a) Objective of the Conference: To secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges.

Contributions could include possible sectoral priorities (e.g., (e.g., energy, food security and sustainable agriculture, technology transfer, water, oceans, sustainable urbanization, sustainable consumption and production, natural disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation, biodiversity, etc.) and sectoral initiatives that contribute to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development could be launched and endorsed at Rio+20.

b) Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication: views regarding how green economy can be a means to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions, and poverty eradication; what is its potential added value; experience to date, including what has worked and how to build upon success, what are the challenges and opportunities and how to address the challenges and seize opportunities, and possible elements of an agreement in outcome document on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication

c) Institutional framework for sustainable development: Priorities and proposals for strengthening individual pillars of sustainable development, as well as those for strengthening integration of the three pillars, at multiple levels; local, national, regional and international.

d) Any proposals for refinement of the two themes. Recall that Resolution 64/236 describes the focus of the Conference: "The focus of the Conference will include the following themes to be discussed and refined during the preparatory process: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development".


Submission by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) for the Rio+20 compilation document

This submission argues why Rio+20 must recognize the centrality of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) to sustainable development and particularly to the well-being of women and young people in a changing world.

IPPF urges the Rio+20 process and all member states to ensure the conference outcome:

1. Recognizes that SRHR and gender equality are essential components of sustainable development;

2. Highlights the importance of adolescents and young people?s access to comprehensive sexuality education in advancing a sustainable development agenda; and,

3. Supports policies and legal measures that will ensure universal access to reproductive health.

Introduction and Argument

Human rights and sustainable development both aim to promote well-being and freedom based on the inherent dignity and equality of all people. The 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED ? ?Rio Summit?) recognized that human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development, and that all people are entitled to a healthy and productive life, in harmony with nature.i The principle of sustainable development is to integrate an approach to development that balances social, economic and environmental justice goals. These principles were adopted at the 1992 Rio Summit and reaffirmed at the Johannesburg 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. However, the implementation of these principles and their integration into national policies and programs continues to receive insufficient attention.

Echoing the 1992 Rio Summit, governments agreed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) that population and development, human rights, patterns of consumption and production and the environment were inextricably linked and could not be examined in isolation. The ICPD also marked a paradigm shift, focusing on the needs and rights of individuals rather than on demographic targets. It deemed that empowering women and meeting their reproductive health and rights were crucial for both individual advancement and sustainable development. Advancing gender equality and ensuring women?s rights and ability to control their own fertility therefore, became cornerstones of population and development policies.

Population variables ? including growth rate, household size, population distribution by age and sex, and urban versus rural orientation ? all affect the ability of individuals, families and communities to manage their natural resources and to respond appropriately to the impacts of climate change. Population growth, density and migration may place additional pressures on the natural environment by increasing demand for natural resources. This in turn exacerbates environmental problems, including deforestation, land and water shortages and degradation, loss of biodiversity due to habitat destruction and the depletion of natural resources. As such women?s empowerment is threatened and stalled by many issues related to environmental sustainability, including the impacts of climate change.

Allowing individuals the ability to realize their sexual and reproductive rights, access appropriate services and avoid unwanted births, leads to the creation of more opportunities for individuals to break the poverty-cycle and take positive steps towards securing a healthier, more educated, economically productive and sustainable present which will not just benefit current generations, but positively impact on those of the future. This is critical to the Rio+20 themes of the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. It is thus vital that the cross-cutting contribution that sexual and reroductive health services can make towards long term sustainable development is highlighted and prioritized in negotiations leading up to and during the Rio+20 Summit.

Protecting and realising the rights of the most vulnerable and promoting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of poor and marginalized groups must be a cornerstone of efforts to support adaptation to change and seize development opportunities. Intensified efforts to improve sexual and reproductive rights, including rights-based voluntary family planning, should ? in helping reduce vulnerability to impact ? be a vital component in supporting countries and communities adapt and respond to climate change. The ability of women to control their own fertility and realise their sexual and reproductive health and rights are fundamental to and inseparable from efforts to promote better health, gender equity, economic and political opportunity and sustainable growth ? all of which will better equip countries and communities to cope with and respond to the challenges posed by climate change and contribute to sustainable development.

IPPF laments that one of the rights that remains unfulfilled for hundreds of millions of women around the world, and especially for young women, is the right to decide on all the aspects related to their reproduction and their sexuality, including the possibility to avoid a pregnancy though access to contraception. The denial of the right to choose if, when and how many children to have increases human vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. In addition, 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years are increasingly demanding access to these services and have expressed the desire to have smaller families than their parents, but need family planning to realize this goal. UNFPA estimates that demand for voluntary family planning is expected to increase by about 50 to 75 per cent from 2005-2020 in many developing countries.ii

In October 2011 the world?s population reached seven billion. This has led to a resurgent interest in discussion on the role of population dynamics, especially in the context of sustainable development and climate change. IPPF acknowledges the evidence that climate change is one of the major threats to human wellbeing, especially for the poor and the most vulnerable sections of the populations in the poorest and most marginalized countries. IPPF also recognizes the scientific evidence that meeting the unmet need for voluntary family planning contributes to ensuring sustainable development,iii including the management of climate change and finite resources such as arable land and drinkable water, and can contribute to reducing carbon emissions.iv Whilst climate change is a global challenge to which all countries must respond, the primary drivers of climate change - and responsibility for mitigation and the support needed to help poor countries adapt - rest with the more wealthy industrial and new economies as the main generators, consumers and emitters of pollutants contributing to climate change.

IPPF therefore specifically urges the Rio+20 process and all member states to ensure the conference outcome:

1. Recognizes that SRHR and gender equality are essential components of sustainable development;

2. Highlights the importance of adolescents and young people?s access to comprehensive sexuality education and SRH services in advancing a sustainable development agenda; and,

3. Supports policies and legal measures that will ensure universal access to reproductive health.

1. Recognize that sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality are essential components of sustainable development

The ICPD Programme of Action recognises that the empowerment of women and women?s equity are important ends in themselves and essential for the achievement of sustainable developmentv. Addressing women?s reproductive health and rights positively impacts on gender equality, population growth, environmental issues and sustainable development.

Yet the lack of priority accorded to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health continues to perpetuate the inter-generational cycle of poverty and exacerbate gender inequality. Some 215 million women still have an unmet need for safe and effective family planning and are unable to meet this need because they are denied the right to choose the number, timing and spacing of their pregnancies, lack access to the relevant information and services, or the support of their partners and communities. In 2008, an estimated 358,000 women died due to complications developed during pregnancy and childbirth and for every woman who dies a further 20 more suffer injury, infection or disability - approximately seven million women every year.vi Ninety nine per cent of this maternal mortality and morbidity occurs in developing countries where resources and priority for gender equality and sexual and reproductive health services is lacking. Between 2000 and 2008, funding from Official Development Assistance (ODA) for family planning declined from 8.2% to 3.2 % meaning there are now less resources to fund reproductive and maternal health programmes than in the year 2000.vii

Climate change and environmental degradation have the greatest impact on poor and vulnerable populations, especially women and young people who often have the fewest resources and are the least resilient to environmental changes and shocks. For example, at the individual level women and girls, who are often responsible for agriculture and supplying water for the household, must work harder and travel further to fulfill their duties,viii leaving them less time to spend in school or engage in income-generating activities which would otherwise contribute towards poverty alleviation and long term sustainable development.. Increased environmental degradation may be exacerbated by population dynamics and and climate change. In the absence of appropriate policy measures and investment, consequences could include: an increase in pressure on fresh water availability; an increase in soil degradation/erosion and its negative consequences for agriculture; over-grazing and shortage of land per capita, increased deforestation and more rapid urbanisation.

Women and young girls must be able to make free and informed decisions regarding their fertility which could otherwise negatively impact on their productivity potential as well as ability to participate in these processes. The consequence of this lack of priority for women?s empowerment also exacerbates the gradual depletion and deterioration of natural resources which in turn can have a negative impact on population dynamics, economic development and women?s empowerment. As highlighted in the Rio Declaration ?Women have a vital role in environmental management and development?.ix Yet for women to be able to participate fully and contribute to sustainable development it is essential to recognize their participation in decision-making processes and governance at all levels including their role as ?agents of change?.x

?Addressing women?s reproductive health and rights is a goal in itself. It will in turn positively impact gender equality, population growth, environmental issues and sustainable development.?xi

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

?Climate change is already undermining the realization of a broad range of fundamental rights for many people ? the right to health and even life, rights to food, water, shelter and property, rights associated with livelihood and culture are all affected. Our challenge is to build accountability for human rights into future efforts to address climate change.?

Mary Robinson, October 2009

2. Highlights the importance of adolescents and young people?s access to comprehensive sexuality education and access to SRH services in advancing a sustainable development agenda

Today, the world has the largest generation of young people in history with the least developed countries having particularly large and rapidly expanding youth populations - sub-Saharan Africa is for example, the ?youngest? region in the world with 28 per cent of the population ranging between 12 and 24 years of age.xii As young people enter working age, they can significantly contribute to sustainable development. However, they can only do so provided that they benefit from good health and adequate education and meaningful employment.

While everyone has important contributions to make to society, the rights, needs and contributions of young women and girls must be prioritized so as to improve health outcomes and accelerate sustainable development. Yet many young women have only limited opportunities for contributing to their own well-being or to society as they are often denied the right to secondary education and essential health services, including sexual and reproductive health services. Young people account for a disproportionate burden of sexual and reproductive ill health because society continues to deny their needs. This is not only a denial of their individual human rights but also makes it increasingly difficult for many countries to eliminate poverty and achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Empowering young people in this way is critical to achieving their individualdevelopment and well-being, and human rights for all. Yet young people remain largely invisible in internationally-agreed development frameworks. As a result, their needs and the realities of their lives are largely ignored. This results in the perpetuation of a cycle of poverty from which it difficult to escape. It is vital, therefore, that any sustainable development agreement takes into account the need and rights of young people to be able to secure a livelihood, good health and good quality of life.

Comprehensive Sexuality Educationxiii (CSE) helps young people develop awareness about their sexual and reproductive health and rights, strengthen critical thinking skills, acquire the ability to develop healthy relationships and negotiate safer sexual practices, including whether and when to engage in sexual intercourse. However, many young people around the world lack access to CSE, which prevents them from being equipped with the knowledge, attitudes and life skills required to make informed evidence-based decisions. As is known, more and more young women and couples of reproductive age are choosing to have fewer children than the previous generationxiv, but are unable to fulfill these desires because of their lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services, information or education. Addressing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people is therefore critical if long term sustainable development is to be realized. Investing in education, including comprehensive sexuality education, plays a major role in addressing these concerns along with targeted investment in the provision of and access to sexual and reproductive health supplies, services and information. Nearly 13 million adolescent girls give birth each year in developing countries, most often before they are physically, emotionally or financially prepared to soxv. As a result pregnancy is the primary cause of death among teenage girls in developing countriesxvi. This is not just a major health issue that puts significant pressure on health systems, but also affects girl?s resilience and decreases their ability to adapt to the consequences of climate change and degradation of essential natural resources.

If sustainable development is to be realized it is imperative that young women and girls are meaningfully engaged in all levels of decision-making. Sustainable development not only affects their lives today, but the principle of inter-generational equity is a further imperative to ensure their active leadership and engagement with decision-making in the future. In addition to young people?s intellectual contribution and their ability to mobilize support, they bring unique perspectives that need to be taken into account.

A girl growing up in Chad today is more likely to die in childbirth than she is to attend secondary school.xvii


When a girl in a developing country receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer childrenxviii

UNFPA 1990

3. Universal access to reproductive health (MDG5b) is key to sustainable development

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) serve as the framework for sustainable development, setting social equity goals and targets that contribute to economic development while ensuring environmental sustainabilityxix.

MDG 5 (improve maternal health) is closely inter-connected to all of the MDGs and is at the heart of the MDG framework, and therefore central to sustainable development. For example, reducing maternal mortality strongly affects newborn mortality (MDG4); while MDG 6 aims to combat HIV and AIDS and malaria which are important indirect causes of maternal mortality. Promoting gender equality and women?s empowerment (MDG3) will help achieve MDG 5. And MDG 1 and 2, increasing primary education for girls and eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, are a means to empower women that will again positively influence the achievement of MDG 5. In addition MDG 5 strongly resonates with MDG 7 ?ensure environmental sustainability?. This is because enabling people to realize their sexual and reproductive rights, access appropriate services and avoid unwanted births, helps families make informed choices about family size making it more possible to be able to adapt to the changes brought about by climate change. There will also be benefits for the age structure, and it will help reduce levels of urban migration, reduce pressure on existing infrastructure, social services and natural resources, reduce pressure on food and water and their security, improve sustainable use of space and land and enhance women?s empowerment and role as resource managers.xx Universal access to reproductive health is therefore a central component of any sustainable development strategy. And since ?sustainable development? is the overall theme of the UNCSD it is crucial that MDG 5b - ?Achieve universal access to reproductive health? is prioritized if sustainability is to be achieved.

MDG 5 ?Improve Maternal Health?, aims to empower women and girls to exercise their rights to reproductive health. Later first pregnancy, fewer pregnancies and birth spacing results in healthier pregnancies, and mothers and children are more likely to survive and are less likely to be malnourished or suffer from chronic morbidity. Yet MDG 5 and particularly its target 5b - the main goal of the ICPD - is the most off-track of all MDGs. MDG 5 recognizes that the well- being of women is influenced significantly by the health, knowledge and choices available to them while they are adolescents. Yet alarmingly few low- and middle-income countries are on track to achieve MDG 5. And although the use of contraception has improved during the past two decades in many regions, the unmet need for family planning remains unacceptably high in these countries.

The decrease in funding for MDG 5 is one of the main reasons why the goal is off-track in most developing countries and means there is now less funding for reproductive and maternal health programmes than in 2000, the year the MDGs were adopted. After being neglected for almost a decade, MDG 5 has in recent years experienced an increased focus resulting in a small step forward. But if we are serious about achieving long term sustainable development it is vital that there is support for the attainment of the health MDGs. As highlighted in the Declaration of the 64th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conferencexxi it is essential that ?By 2015, to support attainment of the health MDGs, and to contribute to health, well- being and sustainable development, ensure universal access to health care and services, wherever feasible, free at the point of use for women and children, and including sexual and reproductive health, and thus strengthen the resilience of people and communities to the consequences of climate change and environmental degradation?.

?The Millennium Development Goals, particularly the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, cannot be achieved if questions of population and reproductive health are not squarely addressed. And that means stronger efforts to promote women's rights, and greater investment in education and health, including reproductive health and family planning."

KOFI A. ANNAN (UNSG 1997 - 2006)

"Today, maternal mortality is the slowest moving target of all the Millennium Development Goals ? and that is an outrage. Together, let us make maternal health the priority it must be. In the 21st century, no woman should have to give her life to give life."

BAN KI-MOON (UNSG 2006 - )

i Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992; Principle 1

ii UNFPA (2009) Personal communication with S Bernstein

iii Zlotnik, H (2009) Does population matter for climate change? UNFPA Experts Meeting on Climate Change. Population Division, DESA.

iv O?Neill BC et al (2010) Global demographic trends and future carbon emissions. PNAS Early Edition. 11 October 2010. Available at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/09/30/1004581107.full.pdf+html. Accessed 16 May 2011.

v ICPD Programme of Action, Chapter IV, Gender Equality, Equity and Empowerment of Women

vi The World Health Report 2005: Make every mother and child count. World Health Organization, Geneva 2005. http://www.who.int/whr/2005/whr2005_en.pdf

vii United Nations Department for Public Information, DPI/2650 E/Rev.1 - September 2010, see: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/MDG_FS_5_EN_new.pdf

viii Langer, A (2009) Smart Global Investment: Save a Mother?s Life. Huffington Post. 28 September 2009.

ix Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992; Principle 20.

x Key Highlights From Bonn Declaration

xi Tellier, S (2010) Addressing Population Growth, Gender, Climate and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights ? a Win-Win Situation? Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark: Copenhagen.

xii The World Bank (2008) Youth in Africa?s Labor Market: 25

xiii Comprehensive sexuality education is ?Education about sexuality and its expressions. It seeks to equip young people with the knowledge, skills, positive attitudes and values they need to determine and enjoy their sexuality ? physically, individually and emotionally. Topics include relationships, love and emotions, individual and societal attitudes towards sexuality, sexual roles, gender relations, social pressures, sexual and reproductive rights, information about sexual and reproductive health, services and communication skills training.? IPPF, Glossary 2011 available at: http://www.ippf.org/NR/rdonlyres/5603D072-DA1B-4D86-8CDE-C3028BFE1896/0/IPPFGlossary.pdf

xiv Zlotnik, H (2009) Does population matter for climate change? UNFPA Experts Meeting on Climate Change. Population Division, DESA.

xv UNFPA, State of World Population 2003: Investing in Adolescents? Health and Rights, New York, 2003.

xvi WHO: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs334/en/index.html [accessed 2 September 2011]

xvii UNICEF, Basic Indicator Statistics. United Nations Children?s Fund, New York 2010. http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/chad_statistics.html

xviii State of World Population. United Nations Population Fund, New York 1990. http://www.who.int/child_adolescent_health/documents/9241593784/en/index.html

xix UNDP, Sustainable development and the MDGs, http://www.undp.org/fssd/crosscutting/sustdevmdg.html

xx Adapted from Family Care International: Millennium Development Goals and Sexual and Reproductive Health briefing cards available at: http://www.familycareintl.org/UserFiles/File/pdfs/MDG-cards-AN.pdf

xxi Declaration of the 64th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference 2, Chair?s Text 3, Bonn, Germany, 3-5 September 2011 available at: http://www.un.org/wcm/webdav/site/ngoconference/shared/Documents/Final%20Declaration/Chair%27s%20Text.pdf

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