Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to you, Dr. Natalia Kanem, on your appointment as Executive Director of UNFPA. Japan renews its long-standing commitment to support UNFPA under your able leadership to fulfil its core mandate to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, as well as to address emerging population and development challenges, leading to the achievement of the SDGs.
I would first like to underline the importance of implementing and adapting the Strategic Plan 2018-2021 in the context of the UN development system reform. The “Common chapter” of the Strategic Plan is a good start, but the key point is to ensure it is delivered as one UN. Ending Gender-based Violence, for instance, necessarily involves UNDP, UNICEF and UN-Women besides UNFPA. Agencies need to collaborate rather than compete. UNFPA’s Comprehensive Resource Review to make the agency fit-for-purpose is crucial, but we need to pursue efficiency not just as an agency but as a whole system through common business services, for instance. And it is our task as Member States to shape the reform of UNFPA as well as the whole development system so that these greater collaborations and efficiencies will lead to better services on the ground for people at all stages of their lives from babies, young mothers to centenarians.
In implementing the Strategic Plan, we need to adapt to local demographic contexts. Asian countries, in particular, are facing an unprecedented rate of population ageing. I would urge UNFPA, as the UN population agency, to assist countries address the issue of ageing, including when and how to prepare for long-term care systems, and promoting family planning while addressing low fertility.
I would like to reiterate the invaluable role that UNFPA is playing in the global movement to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC), through which all people will be able to get basic health care regardless of their economic circumstances, by the year 2030. Today, at least half of the world’s population still lacks access to basic health care, including sexual and reproductive health, and every year almost 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty because of health care spending. Last month in Tokyo, leaders including UN Secretary-General Guterres gathered together and made a commitment to end this. Prime Minister Abe pledged 2.9 billion US dollars to advance UHC around the world. I trust UNFPA to play a major role, particularly in the area of ending preventable maternal death through such means as Maternal and Child Health Handbook, in achieving UHC.
Japan is committed to supporting UNFPA as a critical agency to protect the vital core of all human lives, including women and girls, in ways that enhance freedoms and human fulfillment.
I thank you.
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Yasuhisa Kawamura, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the 2018 First Regular Session of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board: UNFPA Segment
January 25, 2018