Remarks by Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens, U.S. Representative to ECOSOC, at the U.S. National Statement UN Population Fund Executive Board Meeting Annual Session

Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens
U.S. Representative to ECOSOC 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
June 5, 2013


Thank you, Madam President. Let me first express warm thanks to the Executive Director for his briefing and to all UNFPA colleagues for their excellent work preparing us for this session.

Madam President, global population trends and dynamics are more complex today than ever before: a world population set to reach an estimated 9 billion by 2050, crossing the threshold in which the majority of the world’s people now live in cities, aging populations alongside burgeoning youth, new scale and trends in migration, technologies and interconnections that link us more than ever before across borders and across generations, and an urgent need to redouble all of our efforts to empower women and girls around the world.

We welcome UNFPA’s setting an ambitious global agenda that reflects these realities, while maintaining a focus on women and girls, especially as we work together to accelerate efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals and embark on crafting a post-2015 development agenda. The twenty-year review of the International Conference on Population and Development Program of Action is also well underway, giving us a road map for continued progress in every corner of the world.

UNFPA can be a vital policy leader in navigating this terrain and ensuring that issues critical to women and young people, in particular, have prominence in global debates. The Dhaka thematic consultation on population dynamics earlier this year, and the Bali Youth Forum in 2012, are just two instances where UNFPA’s convening power helped create an opportunity to tackle critical issues that impact the lives and livelihoods of women and youth.

We also welcome UNFPA’s embrace of new partnerships and its commitment to solution-driven collaborations that are at the cutting edge of development in the 21st century. Through the Family Planning 2020 initiative, UNFPA is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, and the U.S. Agency for International Development to ensure that women in every country have the same access to contraceptives. UNFPA’s partnership with the International Planned Parenthood Federation, announced last week at the Women Deliver Conference in Malaysia, in turn, will significantly boost investment in family planning services, with a focus on young people and other vulnerable groups, particularly in areas affected by natural disasters and conflict. UNFPA's presence in close to 150 countries makes it uniquely placed as a partner in these kinds of life-saving initiatives.

UNFPA has of course been a stalwart advocate for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and for combating the corrosive scourge of violence against women and girls. UNFPA’s leadership during this year’s Commission on Population and Development and Commission on the Status of Women was crucial to their success, and my delegation wants to thank Dr. Osotimehin for his personal dedication to building the consensus for strong outcome documents. The CPD reinforced that the reproductive rights of women and girls must be respected wherever they live and that migration should not diminish in any way a woman’s or girl’s access to sexual and reproductive health services. The CSW, in turn, was pathbreaking in its treatment of the many forms of violence against women and girls and in underscoring that sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights are central to that agenda.

Finally, my delegation is pleased that UNFPA intends to strengthen implementation of the Second Generation Humanitarian Response Strategy. We commend UNFPA’s intention to work with national authorities in specific high-risk countries to ensure that the sexual and reproductive health needs and reproductive rights of women, adolescents, and youth are better addressed in preparedness and contingency plans. This strikes us as an appropriate and smart focus of expertise and resources. We also look forward to the expeditious selection of a new Chief of the Humanitarian Response Branch which will ensure continuity and strengthen UNFPA’s capacities for humanitarian leadership.

Madam President, turning to management, my delegation welcomes UNFPA’s vision for the future direction of the agency and the draft strategic plan for 2014-2017. We appreciate the strong, results-oriented framework and the focus on accelerating progress on the ICPD agenda for women, adolescents, and youth, including by achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health, securing reproductive rights, and reducing maternal mortality. My delegation welcomes the call to increase the percentage of resources committed to development activities in relation to management and notes that the draft integrated budget would increase resources available for development by approximately 2.5 percent. This is a move in the right direction, and we look forward to learning more about UNFPA’s new resource allocation system.

We are also pleased that the new evaluation policy will give UNFPA new tools to assess its impact. Being able to measure results and demonstrate tangible benefits to individuals, families, and communities is essential for responsible and responsive management and will help build wider confidence in the organization.

While these are positive developments, we must nonetheless express concern with the management of the Global and Regional Program as we indicated yesterday. We urge UNFPA’s leadership to maintain a close ongoing dialogue with the Board on the steps you are taking to respond to the findings of the recent audit.

In closing, I would like to reiterate the deep appreciation of the United States for UNFPA’s dedication, leadership, and commitment, especially in carrying forward the ICPD agenda. UNFPA’s global leadership helps set critical norms and standards; advance universal access to sexual and reproductive health; reduce maternal mortality; and promote sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, especially for women and adolescents and those in crisis settings. We look forward to working with UNFPA, our partners on the Board, and all stakeholders committed to UNFPA’s life-saving work.

Thank you, Madam President.


PRN: 2013/091