Statement by H.E. Mr. Jun Yamazaki
Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board Annual Session 2013 (UNFPA Segment)
Item 10: Annual Report of the Executive Director
5 June 2013
At the outset, I would like to thank the Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, for his comprehensive statement on his report for 2012 regarding the cumulative analysis of progress in the implementation of the UNFPA Strategic Plan for 2008-2013, and for the openness with which he has personally engaged himself in dialogue with the Member States in the preparatory process for this annual session of the Board.
Japan regards global health policy, including population issues, as one of the most important elements of our foreign policy and recognizes UNFPA as an important partner in this regard. Japan will continue to actively support UNFPA in making further progress in achieving global health goals including the health related MDGs.
In October 2011 the world’s population reached 7 billion and it is expected to exceed 9 billion in 2050. The issue of world population continues to be of increasing concern, particularly from the point of view of sustainable development.
In order to address the population issue, it is necessary for us to continue to steadily implement the Cairo Declaration adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994. Furthermore, we need to work to focus more on adolescents and youth, who must play a key role in order for us to succeed. Various population issues relating to young people have been discussed both at the 45th Session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) held in April 2012 under the theme of ‘Adolescents and Youth,’ and at various meetings related to the ICPD Beyond 2014 process. In this regard, Japan is ready to contribute to the preparations for the Special Session of the General Assembly for ICPD Beyond 2014.
Based on the results of the mid-term review (MTR) of the Strategic Plan 2008-2013, a new strategic direction called the ‘bull’s-eye’ has been introduced. The Executive Director has also shifted the programme focus towards the field. My delegation highly values these new directions as well as the progress that has been made towards the implementation of results-based management and the promotion of evidence-based programme criteria.
A draft UNFPA Strategic Plan for 2014-2017 has been presented and discussions on it have just started. Japan welcomes the fact that the direction of the next plan is coherent with the current strategic direction, and that the various challenges elucidated in the MTR from 2011 have been reflected. We understand discussion on the draft will continue towards the second regular session of the executive board scheduled in September, and my delegation hopes to see further improvement on the draft plan. We are ready to contribute to the discussions. For example, my delegation considers communications in the field between UNFPA, major programme countries and development partners to be crucial for programme success and the promotion of efficiency and effectiveness. We believe this should be reflected in the plan.
Another issue that must be taken into account in drafting the UNFPA Strategic Plan for 2014-2017 is the goal of improving maternal health (MDG-5) which has shown the least progress of all the MDGs. UNFPA has been requested to increase its efforts to implement more programmes related to MDG-5 for the ultimate achievement of that goal by the end of 2015. In this regard, my delegation appreciates the draft Strategic Plan, insofar as it highlights the mandate to achieve MDG-5 including process management. Nevertheless the bottle necks hindering programme progress and the measures necessary to facilitate UNFPA’s programmes are still unclear. It would be appreciated if UNFPA could show a clear strategy for the achievement of MDG-5. There is little time left to achieve this goal by the 2015 deadline.
Japan notes the lack of partnership with the private sector, as pointed out in the midterm review of the Strategic Plan. Since the private sector plays a crucial role for accelerating achievement of the development goals, Japan expects UNFPA to make further efforts to widen its partnerships with the private sector.
While making the utmost effort to achieve the MDGs, we also need to consider the post-2015 development agenda. Japan has been actively contributing to efforts to set that agenda through such means as organizing since 2011 the ‘Post-MDGs Contact Group’. Furthermore, discussions on the post-2015 agenda are ongoing in various fora and occasions, which will serve as a good basis for the discussions among Member States. My delegation believes that the major challenges to be included in the new framework are equity and inclusiveness, universal health coverage (UHC), quality education, sustainability, resilience to natural disasters, economic growth and job creation. Among these, the notion of UHC should be recognized as one of the major pillars of health-related goals in the future discussions. UHC is mentioned in the UNFPA Strategic Plan, and it should be promoted as a major health-related agenda.
Further, the promotion of UHC is also closely related to human security, since access to basic health services and affordable quality medicine is crucial for people to be free from want and free from fear. Human security provides a comprehensive approach that strengthens the protection and empowerment of people and communities. At the high level event on human security held at the United Nations on 9 May, the effectiveness and added value of human security on the ground were shared amongst the participants. In this regard, Japan continues to expect UNFPA to implement human security effectively on the ground.
Over the last weekend, the Government of Japan hosted the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) in Japan together with the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, and the African Union Commission (AUC). The conference saw the participation of representatives of 51 African countries together with representatives from many international organizations including UNFPA. The conference was well attended and we believe it was very successful. My delegation would like to thank all of those who attended the meeting, and, in particular, Dr. Osotimehin for his presence and active participation both at the TICAD V meeting itself and at various side events. We expect the outcome of the TICAD V meeting will contribute to the development of Africa. In particular, health related issues, including family planning and maternal health, are urgent concerns in African countries. It would be addressed in the context of “Creating an Inclusive Society for Growth”, one of the six strategic approaches of TICAD V. We believe that UNFPA has a unique role to play in the development of the countries of Africa. In that sense, we look forward to continue working with UNFPA.