What is the Commission on Population and Development?
Kelly Castagnaro, Senior Communications Officer
Today marks the beginning of the 45th meeting of the United Nations Commission for Population and Development—or CPD—in New York, and we will be covering the convening throughout the week. At the CPD, IPPF/WHR staff will be working with governments, youth advocates from the region, and our allies to ensure the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, men, and young people are upheld. The focus of this year's CPD is "Adolescents and Youth," which makes it all the more important that governments hear from young people living in Latin America and the Caribbean who will be most effected by the outcomes of this meeting.
So, you ask, what is the CPD?
In 1994 governments and advocates gathered in Cairo, Egypt for a major United Nations conference and a landmark agreement emerged: 179 governments agreed that population and development are inextricably linked, and that ensuring the health and human rights of all—sexual and reproductive health and rights specifically—should be central to global development. The Conference adopted a 20-year Programme of Action (POA), which acknowledged gender equality, eliminating violence against women, and the provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services as cornerstones of population and development policies.
Cairo was significant for many reasons. First, it marked a large shift in how governments thought about population, from slowing population growth to improving the lives of individuals, particularly women. Second, Cairo was more inclusive than earlier world population conferences. Women’s organizations, advocates, and feminists from throughout the world were central to the incredible paradigm shift that transpired in Cairo. Third, the POA defined reproductive health for the first time in an international policy document as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being,” and stressed the importance of individual rights, including the “right to decide freely and responsibly” the number and spacing of one’s children and the right to a “satisfying and safe sex life.”
Since that time, progress towards realizing the ambitious POA has been uneven, with many countries lagging behind on their commitments. Each year, the United Nations Commission on Population and Development meets to monitor and evaluate the progress made toward realizing the POA.
That’s where IPPF/WHR, its allies, and youth advocates come in. We work to ensure the goals and vision of Cairo's POA are preserved, strengthened, and expanded. We will also push governments for greater accountability in meeting their commitments. Throughout the week, we will be providing coverage of the CPD and sharing the stories of youth advocates from around the region. We will also explore why investing in youth advocacy is critical and what the impact of these investments can be.