Population-Environment Program Wins Recognition: Blue Ventures Honored at International Conference on Family PlanningNovember 19, 2013 By Schuyler Null
This year’s International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) happened to coincide with the UN’s annual climate change summit. Perhaps it’s apt then that one of the organizations recognized for excellence is helping to bridge the gap between the environment and family planning communities.
London-based NGO Blue Ventures was presented with an Excellence in Leadership for Family Planning (EXCELL) award by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health for their work integrating community-based reproductive health education and services into their marine conservation and coastal livelihood initiatives in Madagascar.
Blue Ventures, which we’ve had the pleasure of hosting at the Wilson Center several times, was one of only two organizations to be given the first EXCELL awards and the only one with a cross-sectoral focus. “Blue Ventures demonstrates how environment agencies working in highly diverse areas can address reproductive health needs within a rights-based framework,” said José Rimon, deputy director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, in presenting the award.
“We are all so grateful for this recognition that integration of voluntary family planning services into community-based conservation, food security, and other environmental programs provides an effective way to reach some of the world’s most remote and under-served communities with the reproductive health services they need,” said Blue Ventures’ Caroline Savitzky at the conference hall in Addis Ababa.
Recognition at this scale is a major boon for the population, health, and environment (PHE) community, which supports similar integrated environment and health programming in biodiversity hotspots and rural areas around the world.
“It is remarkable for a conservation organization to be receiving this award,” said Dr. Vik Mohan, Blue Ventures’ medical director. “This is clear communication from the international family planning community that PHE offers an innovative, powerful, and desperately needed approach for providing some of the world’s most under-served communities with full access to reproductive health choices.”
Dr. Vik Mohan talks about Blue Ventures integrated approach to development at the 2011 ICFP
The awards are designed to encourage and recognize excellence in meeting the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Family Planning 2020 principles – reaching 120 million additional women with family planning by 2020, in an empowering, voluntary, and participatory way. The FP2020 goals, as they are known, were announced at the London Summit on Family Planning last year, helping to kick-start a new round of substantial commitments from many governments to meet the reproductive health needs of women around the world.
“Working across sectors has empowered women, supported active engagement in natural resource management, and greatly improved access to family planning,” explained Savitzky. “In six years, the contraceptive prevalence rate has increased more than fivefold, from 10 percent in 2007 to 55 percent in 2013.”
Blue Ventures presented these and other results at both ICFP and a PHE conference, held just days earlier across town. The PHE conference was attended by close to 200 experts, practitioners, and donors from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States.
Sources: Blue Ventures, International Conference on Family Planning.
Photo Credit: Used with permission courtesy of David Colwell/Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health. Video: Dr. Vik Mohan speaks with ECSP at the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning, courtesy of Sean Peoples/Wilson Center.