As world leaders convene in Rio de Janeiro for the final day of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development PSN’s Sarah Fisher reflects on the consensus document reached, having participated in the summit as part of the Population and Climate Change Alliance.
Credit: UN Photo/Maria Elisa Franco
PSN is pleased with the hard-won reaffirmation at Rio+20 of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, which is recognition of the importance of sexual and reproductive health, and gender equality for sustainable development. The good language in the text on sexual and reproductive health is a key achievement, particularly given that there were no references to sexual and reproductive health or family planning in the zero draft. Our concern is that The future we want does not go far enough.
Reproductive rights and glaringly absent, and the outcome document fails to acknowledge the critical relationship between population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and sustainable development. Addressing these linkages is essential for the achievement of sustainable development, for if women do not have their health and rights, including reproductive rights, there can be no sustainable development.
While population and reproductive rights issues and their critical relationship to sustainable development have proved too controversial for Rio+20, the message of the PCCA at Rio+20 was clear. Population dynamics can and must be addressed in ways that respect and protect human rights, most importantly by ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health programmes, including family planning. Women must be empowered to plan and decide the number, timing and spacing of their pregnancies. This is essential not only for the health and well-being of women and their families, but for the planet.
It is also important to overcome the common and simplistic perception that the solution to sustainable development lies in addressing either consumption or population. The relationships between population dynamics and consumption are complex but critical. Both population and consumption are important to sustainable development, and therefore addressing population dynamics in ways that respect and protect human rights must be part of sustainable development approaches.
An overview of the The future we want in relation to the PCCA’s key advocacy priorities is available here.