Countdown 2030 Europe at the Family Planning Summit London

Approximately $5 billion was pledged to increase access to sexual and reproductive health services in developing countries at the London Family Planning Summit last month. 

The summit, coinciding with World Population Day on the 11th of July, was called to accelerate family planning progress in order to reach the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) goals towards ensuring 120 million more women and girls have access to family planning. The conference brought together Ministers and top officials from more than 50 countries, alongside civil society and private sector, to discuss how to step up family planning efforts. 

Countdown 2030 Europe took stock of the discussions, pledges, and old and new commitments. Although the pledges are unquestionably positive, they still fall far short of the funding needed to bridge the increasing gap. If the world is to meet the target to extend contraceptive access to of 120 million additional women and girls by 2020, European leadership and European funding will be crucial. As time is running short, we have now started the countdown, and under our new campaign banner ‘Because She Counts’ we will bolster our advocacy over the coming years to ensure we meet this ambitious target.

A glance at the outcomes

The Summit succeeded in creating renewed energy around family planning, building on the efforts of the vibrant sexual and reproductive health community. Furthermore, the Summit clearly opened up the family planning agenda, discussing rights-based approaches to family planning, and how integration can support the achievement of the FP2020 goals in the context of universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health. In particular, the Summit also highlighted the need to embed family planning in humanitarian contexts, and also gave special attention to reaching adolescents and youth. The latter were involved throughout the Summit preparations and implementation, putting young people in the ‘driving seat’ instead of only considering them as beneficiaries of family planning services.

Of course, it is important to ‘put one’s money where one’s mouth is’. The energy that was created at the summit definitely translated into concrete commitments and pledges as well. According to the Summit organisers, financial commitments are expected to reach a total of $2.5 billion by 2020, with most of the funding – $1.5 billion – pledged by countries in Asia and Africa. Although the majority of funding from Southern countries came from three countries; India, Bangladesh and Indonesia. A total of 64 new policies and financial commitments were made by governments, donors, foundations and the private sector at the summit. There was a strong Southern representation, many FP 2020 countries made renewed pledges, and a few new countries (such as South Sudan, Finland and Canada) and organisations (such as Medicines du Monde) came on board.

For Countdown 2030 Europe countries, we took stock of the following:

  • The co-host of the Summit, the government of the United Kingdom, announced an increase in funding for family planning of £45 million a year until 2022. In 2012, the Department for International Development (DfID) pledged £185 million per year until 2020, but the extra funding will result in an average of £225 million a year until 2022.
  • Belgium promised an additional €64 million over four years for UNFPA (core funding – €36 million), UN Women (€16 million), UNAIDS (€12 million) and €5 million for humanitarian. Belgium ’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo also spoke out frankly about the need for more male politicians and policymakers to openly identify as feminists.
  • Another SheDecides champion, Denmark, drew attention to the need for better coherence between humanitarian and development responses, also in addressing sexual and reproductive health and rights. Denmark promised $15 million for UNFPA Supplies and to IPPF, and is said to expect to be able to allocate supplementary funds for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the remaining part of 2017.
  • First-time commitment-maker Finland committed €21.3 million towards Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Sexuality Education specifically, consisting of multilateral, bilateral and INGO support.
  • Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, Lilianne Ploumen, who launched the SheDecides initiative earlier this year, announced an extra €5 million for contraception and safe abortion access for women and girls in conflict areas. She also said that the Netherlands would give another €11.5 million to the UN’s Central Emergency Respond Fund.
  • Norway announced it will hold a conference on Comprehensive Sexuality education later this year or early next. Furthermore, they pledged $50 million until 2020 for civil society engaged on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, an extra 25% for UNFPA and $19 million for UNFPA Supplies.

Other countries didn’t make any new pledges but said they they would continue their existing commitments (e.g. France) or referred to promises made earlier this year (e.g. Sweden). The European Commission reaffirmed Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights are an integral part of its commitments to Gender Equality as also reflected in its Gender Action Plan that is now being rolled out, and said an announcement on this initiative will be launched soon.

A full overview of all commitments can be found here.

Our commitment

Countdown 2030 Europe participated at the Summit with several members present, also using the opportunity for bilateral meetings with their government representatives. Countdown 2030 Europe, led by our UK member Plan UK, co-hosted a ‘Morning after’ event ‘Turning 2017 Family Planning Summit Commitments into Comprehensive Action on SRHR. It was a great space to reflect on outcomes of the Family Planning Summit and look towards commitments for the years ahead.

A packed room of key actors – including FP2020, Department for International Development (DFID), NGOs, and actors from the Global South – shared lessons and experiences, and discussed some specific themes in more depth, such as the Global Gag Rule, Family Planning in humanitarian settings, and Civil Society Space and Human Rights Defenders. Countdown 2030 Europe joined the conversations around funding for commodities, looking at existing challenges causing stock-outs and supplies not reaching the ‘last mile’. Proposed solutions included the collection of better data on commodities, but also advocacy for greater transparency of the data and information already available. There will be a write-up of the event in the form of a report which will be shared later this year.

Ahead of the Summit, Countdown 2030 Europe also analysed the SheDecides commitments made so far in 2017, brought together in this two-pager. SheDecides, launched in early 2017 as a ‘global movement to support the fundamental rights of girls and women to decide freely and for themselves about their sexual lives’, was highly visible at the summit, with a Spotlight session, several ‘torchbearers’ present, and the launch of their manifesto. The Countdown 2030 Europe analysis shows that by the end of June, over €84 million had been committed to SheDecides by six Countdown 2030 Europe governments. Countdown 2030 Europe applauds governments for their commitments and pledges so far, but stresses that more needs to be done, and that the current commitments will not be able to reverse the trend or address the funding crisis facing global family planning programmes. The analysis will be updated soon, after the new commitments at the Family Planning Summit and after the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg earlier in July.

Despite the commitments and renewed energy, the Summit offered limited ‘critical assessment’ of where the gaps are in terms of achieving the FP2020 goals, and focused more on highlighting projects and achievements. Hence, there is further monitoring and accountability work to be done to accelerate progress. As Countdown 2030 Europe, we will continue to monitor and hold governments to account on their pledges, and do our part in achieving the ambitious FP 2020 milestones.

What’s next?

At the Family Planning Summit, we officially started the countdown to 2020. On the 11th of July, we launched our brand new campaign ‘Because She Counts’ that will build up momentum towards the 2020 deadlines, and keep governments on their toes. Advocacy and events will take place over the coming years to draw attention to family planning and the role Countdown 2030 Europe countries have to play.

The clock is ticking… Keep an eye out on Twitter and follow #BecauseSheCounts for what’s next!

Photo: IPPF_Kathleen-Prior_Indonesia