Population summit in Nairobi this year to advance ICPD Programme of Action

BY: By Rosemary Ardayfio
Dr Natalia Kanem
Dr Natalia Kanem

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the ground-breaking International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which took place in Cairo in 1994.

During the conference, leaders articulated a bold vision regarding the relationships between population, development and individual well-being.

Its Programme of Action, adopted by 179 governments, recognised that reproductive health as well as women's empowerment and gender equality was the pathway to sustainable development.

The Government of the Republic of Kenya, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with the support of the Government of Denmark will, in November this year, jointly convene a high-level conference to advance the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.

Titled, the “Nairobi Summit on ICPD25: Accelerating the promise”, the conference will offer an inclusive platform, bringing together governments, UN agencies, civil society and private sector organisations, women’s groups and youth networks to discuss and agree on actions to accelerate the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action, which is critical to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

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Side event

At a side event at the ongoing Women Deliver Conference being held in Vancover the conveners of the Nairobi Summit indicated that ICPD was “unfinished business and we will not reach the ICPD goals if we do not finish the Cairo agenda.”

The UN Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr Natalia Kanem, said, “The Nairobi Summit will help us rally a broad coalition of stakeholders to protect the gains made and advance the ICPD agenda to ensure that no one is left behind.”

She added that, “As we celebrate the remarkable progress we have made in advancing the health and rights of women, we must redouble our efforts to reach those who have not yet benefited from the promise of the ICPD.”

Since the ICPD held in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994, there had been opportunities to give the youth a voice and also to ignite professionals and women associations, she noted.

She cited for instance, girls’ education as key to unlocking their potential, and also for them to be provided with information that would empower them to protect their lives, adding that young people should also be equipped with the capacity to hold governments accountable.

What has worked

The Crown Princess, Mary of Denmark, said the Nairobi Summit would take stock of areas that had worked and those that should be improved upon.

The ICPD, she reiterated, was the cornerstone of global reproductive health and rights, adding, “We will not reach the ICPD goals if we do not finish the ICPD agenda.”

The Crown Princess Mary emphasised that the ICPD was about human rights of women and girls, who should be empowered to be able to make choices themselves.

The Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Public Services, Youth and Gender, Prof. Margaret Kobia, said “Kenya is committed to the full implementation of the principles and goals of the ICPD Programme of Action.

We look forward to working with UNFPA, UN Member States and other partners on this important event that will celebrate the significant achievements of the ICPD Agenda and further promote the global development agenda.”

She said the leaders who would convene in Nairobi would reaffirm that sustainable development and the full realisation of human rights depended on making sure they had it, no matter their circumstances.