Speech of Ms. Astrid Bant, UNFPA Representative at the World Population Day Celebration

10 July 2019

Your Excellency Vice Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien;

Ms. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan, Deputy General of GOPFP;

Dr. Nguyen Duc Vinh, Director of the Department for Mother and Child Care, Ministry of Health;

Mr. Vu Dang Minh, Chief of Administration Office, Ministry of Homes Affairs;

Mr. Nguyen Xuan Dinh, Vice Chairman of Viet Nam Farmers’ Union;

Mr. Kamal Malhotra, UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam;

Representatives of Government ministries and agencies, embassies, donor agencies, international and local NGOs, youth representatives, the private sector, civil society organisations, the media and my fellow UN colleagues;

Ladies and gentlemen,

A very good morning to you all,

It is my honour and pleasure to welcome you to the Green One UN House to commemorate the World Population Day 2019 with the theme of "25 years of ICPD: Accelerating the Promise".

Firstly, I would like to thank the Vice Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien for his inspiring speech about Viet Nam’s commitment on ICPD and the way forward to the 2030 agenda.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today is also a great opportunity for us to launch the State of World Population 2019. This annual flagship report is about the unfinished business: the pursuit of rights and choices for all – new realities, new dangers and the new agenda.

We are delighted and thankful for this opportunity to do so, in the presence of the Government, along with a range of partners and stakeholders, also representing Viet Nam.

2019 is a landmark and exciting year for the United Nations Population Fund, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency. UNFPA turns 50 this year – a very special birthday.  And the ICPD Programme of Action, which guides our ork, turns 25.

ICPD, of course, stands for the International Conference on Population and Development, which took place in Cairo in 1994.  That’s when 179 countries – including Viet Nam - came together to forge a Programme of Action. For the very first time, sustainable development was grounded in individual rights and choices, and the achievement of sexual and reproductive health for all.

Specifically, the Programme of Action called for all people to have access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including voluntary family planning, safe pregnancy and childbirth services, and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, recognizing that reproductive health and women’s empowerment are intertwined, and that both are necessary for the advancement of society.

In the 1970s, many governments, NGOs and development institutions began supplying an increasing quantity of reliable contraceptives to enable women to better manage their own fertility. But achieving targets – numerical targets - was the primary goal of many early family planning programmes, and this often compromised the quality of reproductive health services and, at times, violated the rights of women.

By 1994, however, a global consensus had emerged that women had a right to make their own decisions about whether, when and how often to become pregnant, and have children in safe environments.

ICPD built on that by clearly demonstrating how reproductive rights and sustainable development are mutually reinforcing.  ICPD called for voluntary and rights-based family planning programmes, rather than fertility-controlled targets.

By placing individual rights and choices firmly at the centre of development, ICPD reflected the principles of the United Nations Charter, as well as the pillars of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is the bedrock of all that the UN is meant to do.

Distinguished guests,

Now, since 2016, Viet Nam – along with the rest of the world – has embarked on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, underpinned by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. The Agenda and its Goals seek to achieve a life of dignity for all, in order to truly leave no one behind.  

Viet Nam has been an important supporter of ICPD and has shown remarkable results, such as the achievement of the MDG5.

UNFPA has embarked on a new Strategic Plan, which supports the 2030 Agenda and strengthens our commitment to the ICPD Programme of Action.  UNFPA has proudly committed to three transformative results by 2030:

  •     Zero maternal deaths;
  •     Zero unmet need for family planning; and
  •     Zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

All based on a foundation of high-quality population data. Data is crucial to ending the invisibility of those furthest behind. Our commitment to leaving no one behind means everyone must be accounted for, so everyone can be reached. We are very happy to inform you that the preliminary results of the 2019 Census on Population and Housing will be disseminated tomorrow morning by the General Statistics Office, with technical support from UNFPA.

In the first year of implementation of our Strategic Plan 2018-2021, UNFPA laid a solid foundation for getting to zero and in the years ahead we will accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2018, UNFPA continued to harness innovation and partnership, including with the private sector, to create and scale up data-driven, sustainable, open solutions to bring about transformative change for and with women, adolescents and young people. From Health solutions to data innovations and more, UNFPA is committed to expanding the possible to transform the lives of those we serve.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we mark 25 years since the ICPD, we at UNFPA are also celebrating our 50th anniversary. These milestones offer a collective opportunity to recommit to ensuring that everyone everywhere reaps the benefits of this transformative agenda, whose implementation is essential for accelerating progress across the SDGs.

The ICPD Programme of Action offers insightful guidance.  It underscores reproductive rights and choices that enable people not to have more or fewer children, but to have the number of children they want.  

For 25 years, we have been guided by this truth: People are at the heart of sustainable development. I urge all nations to see their people in this agenda for a better world for all.

Let us stand together for our young people, whose well-being, empowerment and opportunities will determine our success in 2030 and for years to come.

This year the road from Cairo leads to Nairobi for the ICPD25 Summit in November. Let’s bring the promise of Cairo to every person on the planet. Let’s keep moving forward to a world of rights and choices, and health and dignity for all.

Thank you, and wishing you all health, happiness and success this World Population Day – and always.

Xin cam on.