From the FP2020 Reference Group

The midpoint of the journey brings a certain clarity of vision. Looking back at where we started, we can begin to appreciate how much ground we’ve covered and how the landscape has shifted around us.

Looking ahead to our destination, we can gauge—with greater accuracy than ever—just how much effort it will take to get there. That dual perspective is what informs this year’s Progress Report, delivered at the halfway point of the FP2020 initiative.

Our journey began at the 2012 London Summit for Family Planning, when the global community recommitted to the principle that all women, no matter where they live, should enjoy their human right to access safe and effective, voluntary contraceptive services and commodities. Leaders from around the world gathered in a demonstration of unity, pledging to put women and girls at the heart of the global development agenda. With an ambitious goal of delivering rights-based family planning services to an additional 120 million women and girls by the year 2020, the FP2020 movement was launched.

Four years later, we’ve made important progress. Access to contraception is a growing development priority, including in countries where it had not previously been high on the agenda. Healthy timing and spacing of births is increasingly understood as a linchpin to realizing other human rights, to health and prosperity—indeed, as a key to unlocking every development goal. Contraceptive access is incorporated in the Sustainable Development Goals, the agenda that will guide the world’s progress for the next 15 years. And our original FP2020 objective of “120 million additional users by 2020” is no longer a solitary goalpost in the distance, but stands as an essential benchmark on the global path to universal access by 2030.

Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik

Getty Images Reportage

But as we celebrate these advances, we also note the ways in which we’re still falling short. Unless we speed up progress now, we will not fulfill our promise to women and girls for 2020, and our 2030 goals will be even further out of reach. Today’s 300 million users of modern contraception is an extraordinary milestone, and testament to decades of dedicated work by the health and development sectors. But not all of our efforts to expand voluntary family planning are producing the results expected; not all of the women and girls we’ve pledged to reach are being served. These are the challenges we must confront in the second half of our journey.

A recurring theme throughout this report is what we can do better—whether that means strengthening a platform, broadening an evidence base, or expanding a service component. In the continuing spirit of the London Summit, we invite the entire family planning community to join us in this dialogue. What can we—all of us—do better? Looking ahead, we suggest three key areas of focus:

Accountability: What can we do to build better accountability mechanisms into our work, from tracking investments to assessing the impact of specific programs? How can we strengthen donor and government accountability for resource allocation, commodity security, and rights-based programming? On an individual level, what can each of us do in our institutional capacities to deliver on our commitments?

Partnerships: How can we coordinate more strategically and efficiently to support country objectives and tackle challenges that persist throughout the sector? How can we be more innovative in our partnering, stepping outside our silos to ensure that voluntary family planning reaches the most marginalized populations? How can donors be more effective partners to countries and in better alignment with each other?

Youth: What can we do to keep our promise to the world’s young people? How can we translate increased country and donor commitment to youth into evidence-based programs at scale in both the public and private health sectors? How can we meaningfully partner with young people to deliver high-quality contraceptive services that meet their diverse needs and circumstances?

These are not questions that any one organization or country can answer alone. They will require the energy and cooperation of leaders, experts, advocates, and implementers throughout our global community. But that, too, is in the spirit of the London Summit.

Together we have already achieved great progress; together we can achieve even more. Our journey is not yet finished. The promise we made in London four years ago is still compelling, still urgent, and still unfulfilled. Millions of women and girls are waiting.

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin

United Nations Under-Secretary-General

Executive Director

United Nations Population Fund

Dr. Chris Elias

President of Global Development

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation