December 2011's Edition of
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In Dakar, Dr. Osotimehin Pushes for More Family Planning Support
More than 2,000 experts from all over the world gathered in Dakar, Senegal at the end of November for the International Conference on Family Planning. Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director of UNFPA, said that the meeting was about more than family planning. It was, he said, “about a larger effort to improve women’s and children’s health…. It is about accelerating social and economic progress. And it’s about a new path to sustainable development.” He added, “We know what needs to be done. We have family planning solutions.” He noted, however, that “we must hold governments accountable for their commitments and champion innovation and access – both in the North and in the South. Investing in voluntary family planning today will not only pay dividends now, but will also help history’s largest generation of young people enjoy opportunities and forge a brighter future.”
Robert Walker Named President of Population Institute
William N. Ryerson, Chairman of the Population Institute, announced on December 5th that Robert J. Walker has been appointed as the organization's new President. Walker, who has served for nearly three years as Executive Vice President, will replace Ryerson, who will continue to serve as the Chairman and CEO. In announcing the move, Ryerson said, "Walker has done an outstanding job in expanding our public education efforts, both domestically and internationally. With more than three decades of policy work in Washington, he understands what it takes to raise public awareness and translate that awareness into action. In his new position, he will devote more time to public speaking and forging the partnerships that are needed to advance family planning and reproductive health."
Getting to Zero on World AIDS Day
December 1, 2011 marked the twenty-third annual celebration of World AIDS Day. Between 1981 and 2007, AIDS has claimed the lives of an estimated 25 million people and 34 million people are believed to be living with HIV today. Advances in lowering the new infection rate (which is down 21 percent since 1997), lowering the number of AID-related deaths, and increasing the number of people able to access life-saving treatment has led Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UNAIDS to call for an "AIDS-free generation." But while the signs are encouraging, there is still a long road to travel before "getting to zero," the theme of this year's World AIDS Day. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 68 percent of all the people living with HIV, and in 2010 the region accounted for 70 percent of all new HIV infections. In addition, women continue to account for around 50 percent of infections. Unless more is done to integrate family planning and sexual and reproductive health programs with HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs, the dream of a world with zero new HIV infections will remain just that, a dream.
Demand for Food Projected to Double by 2050
The global demand for food could double by 2050, according to a new projection by David Tilman, Regents Professor of Ecology in the University of Minnesota's College of Biological Sciences. In addition to population growth, the increased demand will be driven by changing, more meat-intensive, diets. Previous estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization indicated that food demand would grow by 70 percent by 2050. The University of Minnesota report warned that a doubling of food production "could significantly increase levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen in the environment and cause the extinction of numerous species." The report stressed the need to improve food productivity, while also working to use nitrogen fertilizers more efficiently.
End the Epidemic of Violence against Women
Violence can take many forms: physical, sexual, psychological, and even economic, among others. November 25 was International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in addition to marking the beginning for the 16 Days to End Violence against Women campaign. The campaign takes place every year between November 25 and December 10 (Human Rights Day). Up to 70 percent of women experience violence during their lifetime, with domestic violence the most common form. Additionally, every year an estimated two million girls, primarily in developing countries, are forced to undergo female genital mutilation/cutting, and girls are also at risk of being married off at an early age, a practice that significantly increases the chances of suffering domestic violence. Americans are encouraged to contact their U.S. Senators and urge them to ratify the Convention for the Elimination of All Form of Violence against Women, a 31-year old international human rights treaty that defends women's rights and gender equality. The convention sets a global definition for discrimination against women and outlines a plan to end that discrimination. The United States is one of just six nations in the U.N. who have refused to ratify CEDAW.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Soar
With delegates assembling in Durban, South Africa, to make progress on climate change, two new reports dramatized the lack of progress to date. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia (UEA) co-released a study with the Global Carbon project indicating that global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels have increased by 49 per cent in the last two decades. The study, which was published in the journal Nature Climate Change, showed that fossil fuel emissions increased by 5.9 per cent in 2010 and by 49 per cent since 1990 – the reference year for the Kyoto protocol.