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West and Central Africa regional planning gathering wraps up with a pledge to leverage resource mobilization, strategic partnerships to achieve the three ZEROs.

The 2019 regional planning meeting of UNFPA in West and Central Africa wrapped up on Thursday, 6 December 2018 with key recommendations and pledges that would better propel the organization in 2019. They included, amongst others, the need to enhance resource mobilization, including through South-South and Triangular Cooperation to implement activities, projects and programmes geared toward achieving the three transformative results: zero (0) preventable maternal deaths; zero (0) unmet need for family planning; zero (0) gender-based violence and harmful practices, including child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting.

In this light, the meeting urged the regional and country offices to build on the momentum of the Accra consensus, the successful Africa ICPD review, to accelerate the achievement of these three transformative results, including through i.e. scaling up regional joint initiatives on DD agenda.

The 2019 RPM recommended speeding up preparations for 2019 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+25) as well as the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA@50).

Participants were unanimous on the need to build on UNFPA’s successful advocacy and communication initiatives in the region to raise visibility, grow the brand and widely disseminate UNFPA results of various interventions. In this light, the regional and country offices were highly encouraged to improve knowledge creation, management, documentation and sharing particularly of good practices in countries of the region.

Other recommendations focused on staff capacity, management and career development.  

UNFPA pledged to continue supporting research institutions, academia and centres of reference in key result areas such as around Sexual and Reproductive Health, population and development, as well as facilitating South-South Cooperation.

Over 60 participants attended the 2019 RPM, including staff from 23 country offices, the regional office as well as headquarters. The Director of Communication and Strategic Partnerships Division, came along with the Chief of Operational Support & Quality Assurance, and others from the Internal Consulting Group (ICG) Secretariat.

External guest speakers included the Senegalese Minister of Health and Social Affair, the Head of Delivery Unit in the President of Ghana’s Office, CEO Global Business Coalition for Health, experts from the People’s Republic of China (CPDRC), as well as from each of the following partners: CREFAT, KUST, Ibadan University, ANSD (Senegal), INS (Cabo Verde).

Officially opening the meeting, the Minister of Health and Social Action of Senegal, Mr. Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr hailed the collaboration between the Government of Senegal and UNFPA, stressing the significant results recorded in the improvement of maternal and child health. The Minister also spoke of the urgent need to find "a sustainable solution for young people through harnessing the demographic dividend", while paying special attention to south-south and triangular cooperation for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNFPA in West and Central Africa will leverage South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) as a platform to enhance strategic partnerships in the region. The Regional Director in West and Central Africa, Mabingué Ngom, affirmed that SST is a unique opportunity to build strong partnership. He noted that "the region has no other option than to work hard, better and faster to achieve prosperity for all by 2030." Mr. Ngom further noted that the four-year comprehensive review of the United Nations Development System recommended the integration and optimization of South-South and Triangular cooperation in the interest of developing countries.

The SSTC is an essential tool of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) for the rapid realization of the three transformative outcomes outlined in the new UNFPA Strategic Plan 2018-2021, which aims to provide universal access to sexual and reproductive health. This goal cannot be achieved without achieving these three transformative outcomes by 2030: zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning, and zero gender-based violence.

UNFPA’s Strategic Plan is based on five modes of engagement, including a major one: south-south and triangular cooperation, partnership and coordination.

This regional planning meeting was orgnanised ahead of next year’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development and the 50th anniversary of UNFPA.