Clinton: family planning key to sustainability

June 22, 2012

SOURCE: Associated Press via The Guardian

Rio de Janeiro - Hillary Rodham Clinton took a stand for womens reproductive rights during the Rio+20 United Nations conference on Friday, saying women must be empowered to make decisions on whether and when to have children if the world is to attain agreed-upon sustainable development goals.

 

Credit: UN Photo/Pierre-Michel Virot

A key omission: reproductive rights

The U.S. Secretary of State spoke during the conference's last day, applauding the final document's endorsement of women's sexual and reproductive health but making it clear that she objected to the omission of specific language on reproductive rights.

"While I am very pleased that this year's outcome document endorses sexual and reproductive health and universal access to family planning, to reach our goals in sustainable development we also have to ensure women's reproductive rights," Clinton said. "The United States will continue to work to ensure that those rights are respected in international agreements." As in past global gatherings, there was much discussion at Rio+20 about the language related to women's reproductive health and rights.

An initial draft of this conference's outcome document stated, "We are committed to ensure the equal access of women and girls to education, basic services, economic opportunities, and health care services, including addressing women's sexual and reproductive health and their reproductive rights."

In the final draft, the stronger wording "We are committed to ensure the equal access" was switched to the weaker "We are committed to promote equal access." The reference to reproductive rights was deleted altogether, after opposition from the G-77, a negotiating bloc of developing countries at the United Nations, and the Holy See.

Countries unite against the Vatican

Odilo Pedro Scherer, special envoy of Pope Benedict XVI, reiterated the Vatican's position that "all human life, from conception until natural death, has the same worth and deserves the same dignity."

Leaders from other countries, including Norway, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico, Iceland, Switzerland and Israel fought to keep the reference to reproductive rights, as did nongovernmental organizations promoting human rights and women's rights.

Removing references to reproductive health from the outcome document was "an unacceptable step backward that erases decades of global commitments," said Peggy Clark, the executive vice president for policy Programs at the Aspen Institute. "The ability to choose the number, spacing and timing of children is not a luxury. It is a basic human right, one that has already been affirmed by the world community at the Cairo and Beijing conferences."

"The key word is access, above all for women," Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Thursday during a forum with other women leaders. "In Brazil, we are investing to overcome difficulties and poor access to public health services that would allow the full exercise of sexual and reproductive rights, including family planning."

This article by Juliana Barbassa published by Associated Press via The Guardian, has been reproduced by PSN. Minor changes and cuts may have been made for the purpose of brevity and relevance.

PCCA: Rio20 reaffirms ICPD but shies away from population and reproductive rights

June 20, 2012

SOURCE: PSN

Yesterday UN member states reached consensus in the Rio+20 negotiations. From the perspective of the Population and Climate Change Alliance (PCCA) which called for the summit to address the critical linkages between population, sexual and reproductive health and rights and sustainability, Rio+20 has delivered some wins for women and sustainability, but there have also been failures.

Credit: UN

 

Considering the point of departure; not a single reference to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the zero draft outcome document, we can celebrate the good language on sexual and reproductive health, and the reaffirmation of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action of (ICPD PoA). But on the other hand, the consensus document fails to recognize both reproductive rights and the critical relationship between population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and sustainable development.

Below we provide an overview of these issues in relation to The future we want.

The highs and the lows

References to sexual and reproductive health and rights are mostly found in the ‘Health and population’ and the ‘Gender equality and women’s empowerment’ sections in Chapter five covering cross-cutting issues.

The highs:

  • The ICPD PoA is reaffirmed in three places (paras 16, 145 and 241), perhaps most importantly in section II (para 16) which reaffirms various international agreements, although its implementation is only reaffirmed the once (para 241).
  • The need for integration of reproductive health in national strategies and programmes is emphasized.
  • The language on gender equality and women’s empowerment is generally good in the text, and much improved from the zero draft.
  • With reference to the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform of Action and the ICPD PoA the text includes in para 145 “promotion and protection of all human rights in this context.”
  • This text (para 146); “We will work actively to ensure that health systems provide the necessary information and health services addressing the sexual and reproductive health of women, including towards universal access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable modern methods of family planning, as this is essential for women’s health and advancing gender equality."

The lows:

  • There is no reference to reproductive rights in the text. While this is disappointing, ‘reproductive rights’ have not been recognized within the context of any conference or commission on sustainable development. This is of particular concern in relation to the post-2015 international development framework, and as governments gear up for ICPD+20.
  • There is no recognition of the importance of the connection between population dynamics, reproductive health and sustainable development. The only remaining reference to population dynamics / trends in the ‘Health and Population’ section is para 144: "We commit to systematically consider population trends and projections in our national, rural and urban development strategies and policies. Through forward looking planning, we can seize the opportunities and address the challenges associated with demographic change, including migration."
  • ‘Gender equality and women’s empowerment’ is one of the very last sections.

How the negotiations unfolded

In the end, the negotiations came to a close very quickly, with the Brazilians keen to secure an outcome document from what had been extremely slow and difficult negotiations.

It seems that the Brazilians who put the last negotiation draft together took the decision at the last minute not to include reference to reproductive rights, despite according to various sources having promised to.

In contrast to recent negotiations on the Commission on Population and Development, the EU did not split in the Rio negotiations. And as Malta and Poland do not support reproductive rights, nor did the EU. The G77, with over 130 countries, has never had a shared position. The G77 did split in the negotiations and in what seemed to be a coordinated effort, all the well-known anti-SRHR countries spoke out against reproductive rights. Throughout the negotiations the Holy See had been vocal in opposing text relating to to both SRHR and population dynamics. Only a few Latin American countries spoke in support of reproductive rights while the African and Asian countries were almost completely silent.

It was clear that delegations lacked SRHR experts in the negotiations and that this had a very negative impact on the SRHR outcome.

The SDGs and looking forward to post-2015

The final outcome document sets out a process for the establishment of a set of Sustainable Development Goals, but unlike previous drafts does not suggest specific themes or cross-cutting issues.

On the SDGs:

  • "The goals should address and incorporate in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and their interlinkages. They should be coherent with and integrated into the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015, thus contributing to the achievement of sustainable development and serving as a driver for implementation and mainstreaming of sustainable development in the Nations system as a whole. The development of these goals should not divert focus or effort from the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals" (para 246).
  • An open working group will be constituted no later than the opening of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly that shall comprise thirty representatives, nominated by Member States through the five UN regional groups.
  • This group is to; "ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the UN system in its work. It will submit a report to the 68th session of the UNGA containing a proposal for sustainable development goals for consideration and appropriate action" (para 248).
  • No specific goals, targets and time frameworks were decided upon, but para 247 states that the goals; "should be action oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities. We also recognize that the goals should address and be focused on priority areas for the achievement of of sustainable development, being guided by the present outcome document."

It is still the intention that the SDGs and the MDGs should be integrated post 2015. How this will happen is more uncertain but one thing is sure; SRHR advocates must address the shortcomings of Rio+20 and integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and human rights-based consideration of population dynamics as cross-cutting issues that are central to a sustainable future.

The PCCA at Rio+20

The PCCA had a strong presence at the Rio+20 summit, with the member organisations Blue Ventures Madagascar, IPPF, PAI, PATH Foundation Philippines Inc., PHE Ethiopia Consortium, RFSU, Sex & Samfund, as well as PSN, all represented at the summit.

The alliance had a visible impact on the final document, particularly the inclusionof a ‘Population and Health section’ originally proposed by the alliance, and containing some of our recommendations.

We held a successful side-event Population, rights and sustainability: voices from the Global South and PCCA was busy throughout the informal negotiations in the run-up to the summit, seeking to influence the outcome of the summit.

Further information

To stay up to date and share infomation about the latest Rio+20 developments relating to population and SRHR issues you could join the PCCA Rio+20 egroup. Contact Sarah Fisher ifyou are interested in joining.

Read: PCCA's call for Rio+20 and our publication Why talk about population and reproductive rights at Rio+20?

Voices from the Global South discuss population, rights and sustainability at PCCA Rio20 event

June 17, 2012

SOURCE: Population and Climate Change Alliance

Today at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development participants at the summit came together at a side-event of the Population and Climate Change Alliance to discuss a controversial but critical debate for Rio+20 and beyond.

Population, rights and sustainability: Voices from the Global South examined the importance of a focus on reproductive rights and population dynamics at Rio+20 and beyond, if we want a sustainable future for people and the planet.

Chaired by Tania Dethlefsen of the Danish Family Planning Association, one of the founding mothers of the Population and Climate Change Alliance, the interactive panel debate brought together members of the alliance to discuss how addressing women’s reproductive and sexual rights at national and community levels is a win-win approach, for women and sustainable development.

After introductions from Tania, Carmen Barroso, Regional Director for IPPF Western Hemisphere Region, provided a contextual overview for the debate, addressing the controversies and sensitivities which must be overcome in order to ensure that population and sexual and reproductive health and rights issues are recognised as critical to sustainable development.

An interactive panel debate then took place with Mialy Andriamahefazafy of Blue Ventures Madagascar, Joan Castro of Path Foundation Philippines Inc. , and Negash Teklu of PHE Ethiopia Consortium sharing experiences from their own countries of integrating family planning with other sustainable development programmes.

Lively debate and discussion ensued with comments and questions from the audience on a variety of topics, ranging from the implications of the Vatican’s privileged observer status at the UN, to strategies the SRHR community must use to ensure that in the post-2015 international development agenda sexual and reproductive health and rights are explicitly and visibly recognized as a core element of the foundation upon which the world's efforts to secure sustainable development for all can be realized.

Key messages from the event

  • The voices of people from the global South in sharing experiences are critical for overcoming sensitivities and the reluctance or concern that some development actors have about approaching population and SRHR issues.
  • It's not an either or issue; both population and consumption are important and this message is vital for overcoming controversies and sensitivities.
  • Population, health, development and environmental issues are integrated so the solutions must be too. Family planning and conservation can be delivered simultaneously and there’s evidence that it is cost-effective.
  • Population issues and family planning provision are not necessarily contentious in all countries and communities. In Madagascar for example where Blue Ventures is working, it was the local community that identified population growth and lack of access to health services as exacerbating poverty, overfishing and food insecurity.
  • Incorporating livelihood approaches into PHE approaches has benefits for the environment, food security, health and well-being and poverty reduction.
  • The SRHR community needs to engage more widely outside of the population and reproductive health and rights spheres, reaching out to development and environmental audiences and actors.

Recommendations for scaling up integrated approaches

PCCA members from the Global South shared the following recommendations for others interested in undertaking integrated Population, Health and Environment approaches:

  • Integrated population, health and environment approaches must be inclusive and fully involve communities in planning and implementation.
  • Consortiums (such as PHE Ethiopia Consortium) bringing together multi-sector stakeholders, including those working on health, environment, gender and livelihoods issues, are a good way of promoting collaboration, sharing learning, and building capacity for the implementation of integrated programmes.
  • Sensitivities and obstacles vary according to culture. Don’t be afraid of talking to communities about their needs, and be ready to respond.
  • Engage with youth and use peer education programmes.
  • Identify champions at all levels; community, policy makers, service providers etc.
  • Community-based distributors of reproductive health commodities are an effective way of increasing access and awareness of family planning but also of overcoming sensitivities. This is an approach used by Path Foundation Philippines Inc.
  • Community outreach through sports activities, films etc generate interest and increase awareness.
  • Build the evidence base for PHE approaches, and bring it to policy makers and funders.

More PCCA-associated side-events

The event was held by PCCA with the support of the following co-organising organisations: Blue Ventures Madagascar, Marie Stopes International (MSI), PATH Foundation Philippines, Inc. (PFPI), Population Action International (PAI)
Population Health Environment (PHE) Ethiopia Consortium, Population and Sustainability Network (PSN), Sex og Samfund (Danish Family Planning Association) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

PCCA is also associated with a number of other Rio+20 side-events.

Yesterday alliance member Doris Mpoumou of IPPF WHR made a presentation at the PAI side-event From Rio to Cairo to Rio… and Beyond, sharing the alliances perspectives of integrating population dynamics and SRHR into the Rio+20 and post-2015 processes.

Tomorrow at PAI’s Healthy Women, Healthy Planet: Women’s Empowerment, Reproductive Health and Climate Change side-event the alliance's Southern member organisations Blue Ventures Madagascar, PFPI and PHE Ethiopia Consortium will be discussing their integrated Population, Health and Environment programmes.

On 22 June a high-profile IPPF side-event Dynamics of Rio: Population, Women and Rights will bring together the governments of Denmark, Brazil and South Africa.

Earlier at the summit, PCCA member Negash Teklu of PHE Ethiopia Consortium spoke at the side-event Climate change and sustainable development in Ethiopia.

Further information about PCCA

To stay up to date and share infomation about the latest Rio+20 developments relating to population and SRHR issues you could join the PCCA Rio+20 egroup. Contact Sarah Fisher ifyou are interested in joining.

Read: PCCA’s leaflet 'Why talk about population and reproductive rights at Rio+20?'

World scientists call for action on population and consumption ahead of Rio20

June 14, 2012

SOURCE: IAP

Today the worlds 105 science academies have issued a joint statement highlighting the global challenges of population and consumption, calling upon world leaders to take decisive action.  

 

Warnings ahead of Rio+20

Ahead of next week’s Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the IAP Statement on Population and Consumption sends a strong message to world leaders and policy makers that; "While progress has been made in some areas, the challenge of finding a path to global sustainability has not been met and the consequences of failure are now clearer and increasingly pressing".

"We are delighted that the world’s science academies have chosen to come together to highlight two of the most profound challenges to humanity – population and consumption - and to call for urgent and coordinated international action to address them" said IAP Co-Chairs.

The challenges

Emphasising the relevance of population and consumption to the future of both developed and developing countries, the statement sets out the challenges faced as well as the actions necessary to address these pressing issues.

The statement reminds policy makers preparing for Rio+20 of the relevance of population and consumption because:

  • Population and consumption determine the rates at which natural resources are exploited and the ability of the earth to sustainably provide the food, water, energy and other resources required by its inhabitants.
  • Current patterns of consumption, especially in high-income countries, are eroding natural capital at rates that are severely damaging the interests of future generations.
  • Rapid population growth can be an obstacle to improving standards of living in poor countries, to eliminating poverty and to reducing gender inequality.
  • Changes in population age structure have important social, economic and potentially environmental ramifications.
  • Population growth can contribute to movements of people (for example from the countryside to cities or between countries). If urbanisation and migration are unplanned for  they can be economically and politically disruptive and have serious environmental impacts.
  • The combination of unsustainable consumption patterns, especially in high-income countries, and of the number of people on the planet, directly affects the capacity of the earth to support its natural biodiversity.
The action necessary

Key actions that national and international policy and decision makers are urged to take include:

  • To ensure that population and consumption are considered in all policies, including those related to poverty reduction and economic development, global governance, education, health, gender equality, biodiversity and the environment.
  • To make global consumption sustainable; to reduce levels of damaging types of consumption and develop more sustainable alternatives.
  • To encourage development strategies that help to reduce population growth, in particular programmes that promote education, especially of women and girls, and that ensure access to comprehensive reproductive health and family planning programmes.
  • To design “green economy” innovations to increase human well-being and reduce environmental impacts.
  • To develop policies that maximise the benefits of greater life expectancy, that improve the quality of life of older people, and that create new opportunities for their continued contribution to society.
  • To develop policies that maximise the economic and social benefits of migration to both source and recipient countries.
  • To implement urban planning policies that take into account consumption needs and demographic trends while capitalising on the potential economic, social and environmental benefits of urban living.
Further information

The full statement is available to download on the IAP website.

Read about what the Royal Society – the UK’s academy for Science, has to say about the statement.

Read an article about the statement in The Guardian.

PSN brings the population debate to Cheltenham Science Festival

June 14, 2012

SOURCE: PSN

Yesterday PSNs Karen Newman engaged many of the worlds best science thinkers as part of a debate over the urgency of the population question.

 

Last year the world's population hit 7 billion. Yet population debates remain polarised: some see the number as a distraction from the more urgent need to reduce consumption in wealthy countries, whilst others argue it is an issue that will solve itself as global population is projected to peak and then fall from the middle of the century. 

With the Royal Society having just published one of the most comprehensive global population reviews ever undertaken, Karen joined Jonathan Porritt, Director of Forum for the Future, to share and discuss its findings and recommendations at Cheltenham Science Festival.

The event Population: How Many is Too Many? was covered in The Times in an article entitled Future survival depends on half a child less, UN claims. In the article Karen called for attention to the significance of population dynamics for the environment, warning that;

"Unless we link planning for people with planning for the environment we won’t have anything that looks remotely like sustainable development."

You can read a brief article about the event, entitled Family planning: the key to curb population growth, in the festival's daily online newspaper.

PSN delivers online workshop on population and climate change

June 11, 2012

SOURCE: PSN

PSNs Karen Newman has facilitated an online workshop examining the complex, critical and controversial linkages between population and climate change. 

Karen's presentation for the workshop

Ahead of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development taking place this week, journalists, civil servants and NGO staff have participated in an online workshop organised by Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW).

After giving an overview of world population trends and the urgency of climate adaptation and mitigation, Karen’s presentation turned to examining the interactions between population, climate change and wider sustainable issues. Participants had the opportunity to reflect on the ways that integrated population, health and environment (PHE) approaches, such as projects being undertaken by PSN members PHE Ethiopia Consortium and Blue Ventures Madagascar, may offer scope to support climate change adaptation.

Karen's online presentation is available to view on the DSW website.

New PSN briefing on population dynamics and biodiversity

June 11, 2012

SOURCE: PSN

PSN has published a new briefing setting out the ways that population dynamics interact with the environment to influence rates of biodiversity loss, and sharing policy interventions to promote integrated approaches that address the interrelationships between population, health and the environment.

Credit: Bigfoto.com

Setting out the links

Biodiversity is vital to human well-being because it underpins the functioning of ecosystems upon which human life depends. Yet the combination of increasing population growth and consumption levels is changing the planet's ecosystems at an unprecedented rate and scale, resulting in rates of biodiversity loss that pose a major threat to human well-being.

Population dynamics, including population growth, density and migration, are important underlying causes of biodiversity loss, with human demands for food, energy, land and other natural resources placing ecosystems under increasing stress. Population growth and density are particularly high in areas where there is the greatest biodiversity and the threat of loss is most severe. In many of these 'biodiversity hotspots' women have a high unmet need for contraception.

While both the role of human population dynamics and consumption patterns as the underlying drivers of declining levels of biodiversity is acknowledged by conservationists, few conservation strategies address these direct causes of biodiversity loss.

By focusing on the interactions between population and the environment, Population Dynamics and Biodiversity: A PSN Briefing Paper highlights interventions which are often overlooked by conventional conservation strategies. These include strategies that seek to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights and women's empowerment, which offer scope to positively influence population dynamics, benefiting both people and the ecosystems upon which we depend.

The briefing includes a case study on Madagascar, highlighting the work of PSN's model project partner and network member Blue Ventures, and highlights the work of other PSN partners undertaking integrated Population, Health and Environment approaches.

Key policy recommendation highlights from the briefing:

  • Addressing root causes: For conservation strategies to be successful in the long-term, human-rights based policies are required that address the role of both human population growth and dynamics and unsustainable patterns of consumption as underlying drivers of biodiversity loss. Awareness of the ways that population dynamics and consumption patterns interact and influence biodiversity loss must be increased across disciplines and amongst politicians, decision-makers, donors and NGOs.
  • Increased investment in family planning: Family planning is a highly cost-effective intervention, empowering couples to achieve smaller, healthier families while reducing population growth and pressures on natural resources and biodiversity. To meet the needs of the 215 million women in developing countries with an unmet need for contraception, there must be increased investment in family planning, delivered as part of comprehensive reproductive health programmes that respect and protect rights.
  • An integrated policy approach: Innovative Population Health Environment projects provide successful models for integrating family planning and other social investments into environmental programmes, offering opportunities to increase the effectiveness of conservation interventions while advancing reproductive health and contributing to poverty alleviation.
  • Effective leadership and funding: Urgent action and strong leadership is required on a global scale to reverse the overexploitation and destruction of life-supporting ecosystems. Governments and donors should embrace integrated approaches addressing the interrelationships between people and the environment, requiring flexible funding mechanisms and support for cross-sector collaboration.
  • Multi-sector collaboration and environmental planning and policy making: An integrated approach requires greater cooperation between environment, health and development organisations, including collaborative mechanisms at the international level. Sustainable development, environmental and urban planning requires consideration of population dynamics and trends including population growth and density, urbanisation and migration, and related impacts on biodiversity.
  • Women’s empowerment, education and participation: Initiatives to promote women’s empowerment, including a focus on education will support women to exercise reproductive choices and reduce fertility rates. Recognising that women are key agents of change, often bear responsibility for management of natural resources, and are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of biodiversity loss, the full and equal participation of women in conservation interventions and decision making must be ensured.

Read the briefing: Population dynamics and biodiversity

New PCCA briefing following the 3rd round of Rio20 informal negotiations

June 6, 2012

SOURCE: PSN / Population and Climate Change Alliance

In advance of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development taking place this month the PCCA has issued a new briefing for SRHR advocates, sharing the latest updates following the third round of informal Rio+20 negotiations which came to a close at the UN in New York last week.

Credit: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

Negotiations see some progress

Unlike previous preparatory meetings, in many ways, this was the first round of actual negotiations in the Rio + 20 process. Instead of mere reading and incorporation of proposed to the draft resolution, the co-chairs decided to form so-called contact groups, which were thematic working groups on different topics. These groups were formed to help speed up the negotiation process by creating a more informal setting that allowed for genuine discussions that could lead to consensus on controversial issues. While the creation of too many contact groups made it difficult for smaller missions and delegations to participate in all of them, as a strategy to move the negotiations forward it seemed to be at least partially effective.

Reproductive health and rights and population dynamics

Representing the Population and Climate Change Alliance (PCCA) at the informal negotiations were staff members from Sex & Samfund and IPPF. To inform the negotiations, PCCA had circulated to delegates and key stakeholder groups our document setting out recommended text and suggested amendments on reproductive health and rights, population dynamics and related issues. This text is being circulated widely by PCCA members and other SRHR advocates.

Progress was made in the two contact groups on "Gender" and "Population and Health", where reproductive health and rights issues are most prominent. However, the text in neither of these sections was closed so there is still much work to be done to ensure that a focus on these issues is retained, and strengthened.

Further information and PCCA egroup

If you would like a copy of this latest briefing from the PCCA, which shares more detailed analysis on population and SRHR issues following the third round of informal negotiations, please contact Sarah Fisher

To stay up to date and share infomation about the latest Rio+20 developments relating to population and SRHR issues you could join the PCCA Rio+20 egroup contact Sarah Fisher ifyou are interested in joining.

Read: PCCA's leaflet 'Why talk about population dynamics and reproductive rights at Rio+20?'

UPDATE 7 June 2012

Since issuing this briefing another draft of the Rio+20 outcome document has been released, in advance of the the final round of negotiations that will take place in Rio next week, prior to the summit.

New PCCA briefing following the 2nd round of Rio20 informal negotiations

May 11, 2012

SOURCE: PSN / Population and Climate Change Alliance

Following on from the second round of informal Rio+20 negotiations which came to a close at the UN in New York last week, the PCCA has issued a briefing and our latest suggested text and amendments for the draft outcome document.

Credit: UN Photo

Negotiations are worryingly slow

Representing the Population and Climate Change Alliance (PCCA) at the informal negotiations were staff members from PSN, Sex & Samfund and IPPF.

Unfortunately disagreements amongst member states are still strong, including on major topics including the Green Economy, the future of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the overall institutional framework, where the EU, G77 and the US currently are very far from each other. Even in other areas of the text there is little consensus; new text was still being inserted and contested without agreement being reached.

As a conclusion it was decided to introduce an extra, third round of informal negotiations before the summit; from 29 May – 2 June at the UN in New York. It is still doubtful if this extra week of negotiations will lead to any significant agreements, and it is now more likely that Brazil - the host - will in the end have to come up with a short text in the last days of the negotiations in Rio.

Reproductive health and rights and population dynamics

Considering the point of departure – namely no mention of reproductive health and rights and very little focus on population dynamics and trends in the Rio zero draft text, we have come a long way. At the informal negotiations there were two readings of the proposed health and population section under Chapter 5.

To inform the negotiations PCCA circulated to delegates and key stakeholder groups our document setting out recommended text and suggested amendments on reproductive health and rights, population dynamics and related issues, which we issued a revised version of during the second week in response to changes made during the first reading of the text. This text is being circulated widely by PCCA members and other SRHR advocates.

As the text stood at the end of the second round of informal negotiations on Friday 4 May, reference to population dynamics and reproductive health was included in the text, meaning that in a broader sense the document does now acknowledge that these are important factors for sustainable development. While still bracketed, we are pleased that it looks likely that commitment to implementation of ICPD and the Beijing Platform for Action (among many other international commitments) will be reaffirmed. However; there is still much work to be done to clarify the link between sustainable development, population dynamics and reproductive health in the text, to strengthen the commitments on these issues and of course to ensure that focus on these areas are not lost.

UN launch of Royal Society People and Planet report

On 1 May PCCA members attended a side-event People and the Planet: The Priorities for Rio+20, held at the informal negotiations by the UNFPA and the Royal Society.

At the event UNFPA's Executive Director Babatund Osotimehin and Nobel Laureate Sir John Sulston presented the findings from the major report investigating the links between global population and consumption, and the implications for a finite planet and discussed implications of the report for the upcoming Rio+20 Conference.

Following the event, you can read a release from a press conference at the UN and an article published in the stakeholder magazine Outreach.

Further information

If you would like a copy of the full briefing from the PCCA sharing more detailed analysis on population and SRHR issues following the second round of informal negotiations, and a copy of our recommended text and revisions for the draft outcome document, please contact Sarah Fisher.

To stay up to date and share infomation about the latest Rio+20 developments relating to population and SRHR issues you could join the PCCA Rio+20 egroup contact Sarah Fisher ifyou are interested in joining.

Blue Ventures increases the evidence-base for integrated development approaches

May 2, 2012

SOURCE: Blue Ventures

PSN member Blue Ventures has published new data from a project in Madagascar demonstrating the benefits of an integrated approach to improving public health, gender equality, food security and biodiversity conservation. 

Credit: David Gough/IRIN

An innovative project

The island of Madagascar is a global priority for conservation, with the ‘biodiversity hotspot' home to 5% of global biodiversity, which is threatened by habitat loss, rapid population growth and other pressures.

While population growth is high across Madagascar, the coastal population is growing particularly rapidly, and in the project area where communities previously had no or little access to family planning it is not uncommon for women to have ten or more children. Population growth was being identified by fishing communities as a root cause of resource degradation, by placing pressures on coastal resources and contributing to overfishing.

The project began in 2007 when, responding to the community-expressed need for reproductive health services, Blue Ventures began integrating reproductive health programmes with existing conservation initiatives by opening a family planning clinic. By 2010 service provision had been expanded to two further sites, serving all 24 villages in the marine conservation area.

Blue Ventures has found that responding to women’s reproductive needs is not only beneficial in its own-right, but is also a valuable way of engaging women and wider communities in conservation efforts, improving the effectiveness of the overall project.

Demonstrable results

Analysis of data collected over three years from the project shows population growth has slowed by one third in some areas, and the proportion of women using contraception has increased four-fold. Calculations show families have been able to prevent more than 355 unwanted pregnancies, and 88 unsafe abortions.

The data is set out in a research paper published this month in Oryx, the international journal of conservation, which clearly demonstrates the immediate, practical and long-lasting benefits of responding to the inextricable link between reproductive health and conservation.

Responding to publication of the research, Sir David Attenborough expressed his wholehearted congratulations, saying;

"Population growth is clearly one of the main drivers of all our environmental problems. Good family planning support must therefore be an essential part of all long-term solutions."

"It is wonderfully encouraging to see this truth being demonstrated so clearly and successfully. The project is surely a model for everyone working to conserve the natural life-support systems of our troubled planet."

Learn more

Read more about the project and research on the Blue Ventures website.

Read the paper: Integrating family planning service provision into community-based marine conservation by Alasdair Harris, Vik Mohan, Maggie Flanagan and Rebecca Hill.