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Reproductive Health Advocates React To Rio+20 Draft Document In Opinion Piece, Blog

Representatives meeting at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Tuesday “announced that they have reached an agreement [.pdf] on the outcome document,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The agreed outcome document spells out action points such as the need to establish sustainable development goals and mobilize financing for sustainable development, as well as the promotion of sustainable consumption and production,” according to the news service (6/19). The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” notes that “paragraph 145 reads: ‘We emphasize the need for the provision of universal access to reproductive health, including family planning and sexual health and the integration of reproductive health, in national strategies and programs’” (Ford, 6/20). The following summarizes an opinion piece and blog post addressing the outcome document.

  • Jenny Shipley, CNN: “Negotiators hammering out the terms for discussion in Rio failed to link the summit’s sustainable development goals to the concerns, needs and desires of women worldwide — particularly to the role that family planning could play in easing the burdens posed by population growth,” Shipley, former prime minister of New Zealand and a member of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, writes. “Providing women with the desired cost-effective, low-tech family planning services would not only dramatically reduce pressure on natural resources, increase supplies of food and water, decrease the risk of conflict over other scarce resources and improve ecological health, but scientists estimate such services would cut carbon emissions by up to one-quarter of what’s needed to slow climate change — an outcome equal to ending deforestation around the world, or increasing 40-fold our reliance on wind power,” she continues, concluding that leaders “must find the political will to make reproductive health fundamental to implementing sustainable development as a major outcome at Rio” (6/20).
  • Zonibel Woods, RH Reality Check: Though “the text includes a re-affirmation of both the Cairo and Beijing agreements” on population, development and women, “it falls short by failing to recognize that reproductive rights are also critical to the achievement of sustainable development,” Woods, founder of the Women and Climate Change Foundation, writes. “If a woman cannot decide if and when to have children and if she is not provided with the reproductive health care that is her human right, it is challenging to contribute to sustainable solutions for the planet,” she continues, noting, “Norway, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico, Iceland, Switzerland, Israel and many others fought to the end to retain the reference to reproductive rights and expressed disappointment that this was not incorporated in the final text.” She concludes, “For now, governments attending Rio+20 have failed” women (6/20).