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State of World Population Report launch

November 27, 2012

Foreign Minister Bob Carr with UNFPA Executive Director Dr Babatunde Osotimehin at the launch of the UNFPA State of World Population Report 2012 in Canberra on November 26, 2012

I was pleased to launch UNFPA’s State of World Population Report 2012 yesterday (November 26). The Australian Government will provide up to $70 million to UNFPA over the next four years. This is on top of the almost $86 million we have given over the last four years.

Below is a transcript of my launch speech.


I welcome UNFPA’s State of the World’s Population report for 2012.

The report highlighted a number of important things.

• Last year, the world’s population passed seven billion, and it is projected to reach nine billion by 2050.
• Population growth is highest in the poorest countries – where it’s difficult to access family planning services.
• Access to family planning services would result each year in 22 million fewer unplanned births and 150,000 fewer maternal deaths.\
• And it told us that making voluntary family planning available to everyone would reduce costs for maternal and newborn health care by $11.3 billion annually.

The report reinforced the importance of putting women and children at the centre of our aid efforts – and we do.

Australia does this because women and children are the most affected by poverty.

And we also do this because investing in women and their children can bring the most long-lasting results.

A woman with equal rights and education, with access to health care, a job, ownership of a small business, will invest in her family and her community.

This investment has a ripple effect across the whole country – creating stability, a better economy and a better life for her children and all members of the community.

Family planning is good, smart investment.

It saves lives.

There are around 287,000 maternal deaths globally each year.

Deaths in childbirth due to complications from labour and deaths from unsafe abortions.

These are unnecessary and preventable.

With effective family planning programs 30 per cent of these deaths could be prevented.

That’s 86, 000 lives saved each year.

Good family planning also improves health.

It is one of the most cost-effective ways of improving the health of women in developing countries.

Every dollar spent on family planning programs saves around $1.40 in maternal and newborn health care costs.

But the most important reason to support family planning programs is this.

When you empower women and their partners you enable them to exercise choice.

To choose to start, and when to start, a family.

To choose how many children to have and the space between them.

And that is one of the most powerful ways we can effect change.

The report serves a very important purpose.

It shows policy makers, practitioners, academics and partner governments how we can support and promote the right to family planning.

It emphasises that governments have a responsibility to protect and promote the right to family planning.

The Australian Government takes this responsibility seriously.

Around 40 per cent of global maternal deaths happen in the Asia-Pacific region.

140 million women in our region aged between 15 and 49 do not have access to modern family planning.

This represents about 60 per cent of the global need.

In July this year, the Australian Government committed to double its funding on family planning to more than $50 million per year by 2016, up from $26 million in 2010.

Australia’s funding will focus on our region – the Asia-Pacific – in places like East Timor, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

We will fund international partners – like UNFPA.

I’m proud to announce the Australian Government will provide up to $70 million to UNFPA over the next four years. This is on top of the almost $86 million we have given over the last four years which has helped UNFPA:

• to procure 1.4 million condoms and 100,000 cycles of oral contraceptives in Mongolia;
• to train and deploy 834 midwives to remote parts of Cambodia;
• to train 72 doctors in advanced obstetrics in the Palestinian Territories; and
• to equip 75 health centres with basic obstetric equipment in Kiribati.

Australia’s new support – $70 million over the next four years – will help UNFPA to continue its work in over 46 developing countries.

• It will improve access to family planning services for 222 million women;
• It will help UNFPA to supply millions more condoms, hundreds of thousands more cycles of contraceptives, and thousands more emergency contraceptives;
• It will result in hundreds more midwives and doctors, and thousands of sexual health counsellors being trained;
• It will help prevent an estimated 75 million unintended pregnancies that occur each year due to lack of access to contraception.

This is simple and effective work.

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