The International Planned Parenthood Federation expresses its disappointment that the fifty-sixth session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD), held from 10-14 April 2023 at UN headquarters in New York, did not result in a resolution on the theme of Population, Education and Sustainable Development.
The Chair’s draft resolution for consideration on 14th April was the result of many weeks of intergovernmental discussions and represented a compromise to address the positions of all delegations. It was a balanced text based on previously agreed language and included critical elements related to this year’s priority theme, including ensuring a comprehensive response to the learning crises the world is facing today. Key issues including the need for gender-responsive policy development, a focus on marginalized communities, youth and adolescents, sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights were consensually included in the draft resolution, demonstrating global consensus on these issues.
However, consensus on the document was unfortunately broken by a small minority of Member States who were unable to accept language pertaining to comprehensive education on human sexuality, which was language adopted at this very Commission in 2014, and which comes from the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action itself. It is disappointing that these few Member States found it more important to block agreed language than to adopt meaningful advancements in the area of education.
The ramifications of the failure to adopt this resolution will have an impact on billions of young people, adolescents and girls worldwide who have experienced the largest disruption of education systems in history, where more than 90 % of the world’s children have had their education interrupted by COVID-19 and 263 million children and young people are still out of school (1 in 5).
IPPF is, however, encouraged that the negotiations on this resolution, which took place over several weeks, demonstrated the on-going commitment of Member States to the the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA), the key actions for its further implementation, the declaration on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, and resolutions and work of the Commission on Population and Development.
We also welcome the plenary program of the 56th session of the CPD, which featured strong data on comprehensive sexuality education from UN agencies as evidence of its beneficial impact on children, adolescents and young people. In addition (or equally important), the experience of national programs and the passionate voices of young people reaffirmed that comprehensive sexuality education is an essential tool to empower young people and adolescents to make informed choices about their bodies, lives and futures.
With a view towards the 30th anniversary of the ICPD PoA in 2024, we appreciate the commitment of Member States to continue working to deliver on the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and look forward to engaging in the national, regional, and global processes of ICPD+30, culminating in next year’s 57th session of the Commission on Population and Development.