Dear Mr. Zukang, Ms. Thompson, and Mr. Lalonde: – cc: H.E. Dr. John W. Ashe, H.E. Mr. Sook Kim
We, young people and adult allies from around the world, appreciate your collective leadership to foster sustainable development and thank you for your deep commitment to making the world a better place for all.
As the time for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Summit) approaches, we would like to bring to your attention a powerful force in these discussions — young people. As you may know, today’s generation of young people is the largest in history — nearly half the world’s population is under the age of 25, including 1.2 billion adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19.
As active citizens of our countries and the world, we are deeply concerned with the environment and the need for sustainable approaches to development. The time is now for action and for using all possible tools at our disposal. One such tool that has been overlooked and yet has the potential to significantly impact sustainable development is the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
As affirmed in the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action, agreed upon by 179 countries in Cairo in 1994, empowering women and meeting people’s needs for education and health, including young people’s reproductive health, are necessary for both individual advancement and balanced development. When women have power over if, when and how many children to have, communities are better equipped to adapt to their environments, contribute to environmental sustainability, access education and health care, and manage community resources. Yet, sexual and reproductive health care programs, including comprehensive sexuality education; family planning information and services; and access to a full-range of contraceptive methods, among others, are woefully underfunded, often limited in scope and quality, and particularly inaccessible to young people and poor women.
It’s hard to believe, but more than 215 million women have an unmet need for contraception. Furthermore, in some regions, young women ages 15-19 are twice as likely to have an unmet need for contraception as women over twenty. Experts agree that responding to the unmet need for family planning is a viable option for sustainable development, including climate change adaptation. For example, in a recent study climate change economists concluded that responding to the unmet need for family planning and supporting girls education are much less costly than low-carbon energy development options and are cost-competitive with forest conservation and other improvements in forestry and agricultural practices.
Further, while the environmental and reproductive rights movements have often been at odds with each other, in today’s world we see these movements as one. Providing sexual and reproductive health services to young people and women around the world who are already in need of such care promotes human rights while contributing to sustainable development — it is a win-win situation.
Together, we the undersigned:
Call on you to leverage your collective leadership to recognize the importance of youth sexual and reproductive health and rights to sustainable development in the Rio+20 discussions; reaffirm the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Program of Action, which provides a policy framework and guidelines for sustainable development by addressing sexual and reproductive health and rights, including for youth; support the inclusion of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in the outcome document; and urge member states to include youth sexual and reproductive health and rights advocates on their country delegations to the Rio+20 meeting.
We thank you in advance for your consideration and hope that you will be able to take the above requested actions to help ensure sustainable development for present and future generations.
Sign the petition at: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/thetimeisnow/petition
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