Energizing people around family planning can be difficult, “because donors, like everyone else, like something that’s new,” said Karen Newman, coordinator for the UK-based Population and Sustainability Network. “There’s nothing new about family planning. The technology is safe, effective, it’s acceptable, and it works. We just need a lot more of it out there to be accessible to a lot more people.”
“What we want is increased investment in voluntary family planning services that respect and protect rights,” Newman said, “and I think that Rio represents a fabulous opportunity for us to re-identify family planning as a core development priority.”
Newman also hopes the Rio conference will lead to “an integrated look at sustainable development, so that… it isn’t just about the green economy and institutional framework, it’s looking at sustainable development in the round.”
Government development programs and policymakers need to adapt their bureaucratic processes to the kinds of integrated programming being carried out on the ground, she said. In Madagascar, for example, conservation group Blue Ventures leads an integrated PHE program that cuts across marine conservation, family planning, and healthcare sectors. “Now I defy you to find an EU budget line that would be broad enough to embrace marine conservation and family planning in the same project line,” said Newman.
“The first thing we need is that level of integrated thinking – not just in Rio, but also in the way that we conceptualize the work that needs to be done and we facilitate the availability of funding streams that can fund that kind of integrated program.”
Lastly, Newman hopes that the summit in and of itself is successful because of its implications for future development work. As the world gears up to create the next big framework for global development to follow the Millennium Development Goals, Rio is uniquely positioned to set a baseline for what matters and for what the development community is capable of accomplishing.
“What I want to see is a really sophisticated look at sustainable development, coming up with sustainable development goals in a world that makes sense of seven billion, where there are still millions of women without access to the family planning services that we take for granted,” said Newman, “and taking that concept to the job of developing the post-MDG framework that will frame development for the next 20 years.”