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Key Players in Development: Part 1























United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)


At a glance


Established in 1969, the United Nations Population Fund is the world's largest international source of funding for population and reproductive health programmes.

Role and function


UNFPA works with governments and non-governmental organisations in over 140 countries to highlight population problems and to help mobilise resources to solve them. The agency supports programmes that help women, men and young people plan their families and avoid unwanted pregnancies, undergo pregnancy and childbirth safely, avoid sexually transmitted infections – including HIV/AIDS – and combat violence against women.

UNFPA also helps governments in the world's poorest countries formulate population policies and strategies in support of sustainable development.

Since 1969, access to voluntary family planning programmes in developing countries has increased and fertility has fallen by half, from six children per woman to three.

All UNFPA programmes promote women's equality and nearly 60 per cent of married women in developing countries now use contraception, compared with 10-15 per cent when the agency was established.

What UNFPA says about the MDGs


"The most ambitious effort in human history towards human well-being should be an inspiration, but inspiration must be underpinned by some practical understandings.

The first condition for success is respect for national sovereignty: each country will decide its own needs… Second, the Millennium Development Goals reinforce each other; all are priorities and should be worked on together…Third, action towards the specific goals does not exclude and may require action in other areas.

These include debt relief, trade regimes and investment arrangements as well as development assistance.

Although the important… goal of promoting universal access to reproductive health is not included in the MDGs, we believe that progress towards achieving this goal is absolutely essential for meeting the other MDG targets, and especially for reducing poverty in all its dimensions.

In fact… the MDGs, and particularly the first goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, will not be met without addressing the issues of population and reproductive health."

Related links:

UNFPA - Meeting the Development Goals
UNFPA - Population issues
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