Momentum builds to connect family planning with sustainable development

The United Nations General Assembly meetings this week mark the start of the final stage of negotiations over a new set of post-2015 sustainable development goals. The meetings, which started today, also mark the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994, which launched the modern conversation about the role of voluntary family planning in achieving any sustainable development agenda.

Here are just a few of the voices who have spoken out in recent days about these connections, and the urgent need to ensure a central place for reproductive health and rights in the post-2015 agenda.

Robert Engelman, former president of the Worldwatch Institute, and Samuel Codjoe, director of the Regional Institute for Population Studies at the University of Ghana, penned a piece in Grist on the interactions between population dynamics and climate change:

“Population growth and global warming are both likely to continue for many decades. Yet both trends can be slowed through programs that improve reproductive and sexual health while helping women make their own choices about childbearing.”

Ward Cates, president emeritus at FHI 360, offered an excellent roundup of commentaries and resources linking sexual and reproductive health to “progress across all areas of development.” The column in the Huffington Post gives a nice shout-out to Women at the Center, and urges the international community to meet demand for family planning, improve supplies of modern contraceptives, and push for more political buy-in to support these efforts:

“This can be achieved by educating political leaders on how voluntary family planning can significantly contribute to key social, environmental and economic goals and create important demographic dividends and development gains.”

Finally, an article in The Guardian today quotes women’s rights campaigners from Diverse Voices and Action for Equality and Resurj, as well as UN leaders, talking about the need to recommit to the goals set two decades ago in Cairo, and promote the empowerment of women and girls:

“It’s a watershed moment. …  It will be an important opportunity to reinforce the centrality of population issues in the post-2015 agenda and place people at the heart of the sustainable development agenda.” 

– Thomas Gass, assistant secretary general at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Watch @womenatcenter on Twitter for updates throughout the week!