UNIC Canberra hosted a briefing by Björn Andersson, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, and his colleague, Bruce Campbell, Director and Representative of the UNFPA Pacific Sub-Regional Office, on the important work their agency is undertaking in the region.
Mr. Andersson started by speaking about a broad issue impacting the region, that of population ageing. It is happening fast and it is proceeding differently to what occurred in Western countries. It is an issue that UNFPA is working with governments in the region to address, as much as the more well-known work that they undertake in supporting youth – in particular the life cycle of young girls – and in humanitarian work.
The prevalent issues that UNFPA focuses on in the greater Asia-Pacific region are often even more prominent in the Pacific. As Bruce Campbell showed, in parts of the region, adolescent pregnancies are on the rise, while violence is almost the norm in some societies with rates over 60%. While these trends and figures are concerning, he also showed that where intervention in countries has taken place, trends have been reversed.
He pointed to a UNFPA programme in the Solomon Islands where UNFPA is aiming that no one should be more than one mile from a source of modern methods of contraception. By tracking data on such issues in each country, a key part element of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, he pointed out we will better be able to see the impact of such programmes and thus be more effective in addressing the issues.
Issues, which for UNFPA, as Bjorn Andersson made clear to the audience of diplomats attending, include achieving zero maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning and zero gender-based violence.
The briefing also included a lively question and answer session, with questions as to how UNFPA partner with the corporate sector, and on how UNFPA more broadly were working towards the gender equality goal. For more information on UNFPA