African leaders must engage youth, CSOs to support ICPD – UNFPA Boss

Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has urged African leaders to effectively engage civil society and youth organizations as key development partners to support the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

He said the continent’s future development and prosperity depended on investment in young people’s health, education and opportunities to enable them to reach their full potential and contribute to Africa’s development.

He said improvement in young people’s health, education and opportunities for productive employment could accelerate progress now and pave the way for sustainable development in future.

“We will soon reach the target years for implementing the ICPD agenda and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and, more importantly, the people of Africa are counting on a better future for themselves and their children”, he added.

Dr Osotimehin made the call in a speech read on his behalf during the Second Dialogue and Retreat of Southern Civil Society Organisations in Global Health in Accra.

The meeting co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria with participants from Africa, Middle East and the Mediterranean, Latin America, South East Asia and the Pacific as well as Central and Eastern Europe, reviewed the progress on the establishment of the alliance of southern civil society in global health, people in the ICPD beyond 2014.

ICPD 1994 was held in Cairo where 179 countries met to discuss comprehensively and recognised that every person counted, and that population was not about numbers but about people and their quality of life.

Governments also agreed that all human beings were entitled to a healthy and productive life without discrimination, and that promoting individual rights and dignity were paramount to economic growth and sustainable development.

As the programme’s 20 year’s anniversary approaches, the General Assembly of the United Nations has mandated UNFPA through Resolution 65/234 to undertake an operational review of the implementation of the Programme of Action.

It is a follow-up to the ICPD beyond 2014 in cooperation with relevant organizations of the UN System, international organizations and experts.

Dr Osotimehin said over years, the African continent with the support of UNFPA and other development partners had made considerable progress in advancing the ICPD agenda.

Other initiatives that have supported the progress on the ICPD agenda and towards achieving MDGs include National Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Maputo Plan of Action, the African Union Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa, the African Youth Charter and Decade for Youth Development and Empowerment.

He said these efforts being reinforced by a strong political will and commitment at the highest level including the African Union summits on Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Kampala in 2010 and the summit on Youth Employment for Sustainable Development in Malabo in 2011.

Dr Osotimehin called for increase in domestic resources for population and development, sexual and reproductive health, and empowerment of women and young girls.

He pledged UNFPA’s commitment to support the full participation of civil society and youth organizations and building their capacity for sustainable development in Africa.

Source: GNA

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