On February 1, 2011, the new executive director of the UNFPA, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, proclaimed the importance of focusing on youth reproductive health in his first address to the UNFPA Executive Board.  There are an estimated 1.8 billion adolescents and youth in the world today, and almost 90 percent of them live in developing countries.  By the end of this year, the world population is estimated to reach 7 billion, and the proportion of adolescents is expected to significantly increase over the next 20 years.

The projected population increase is the motivation for Dr. Osotimehin’s commitment to increasing the UNFPA’s focus on youth. During his address, he said, “A world approaching a population of 7 billion is marked by new dynamics to which UNFPA must support countries to respond…Investing in youth, their reproductive health and gender equality can help put countries on a path to accelerated economic growth and equitable development…They [youth] need increased support, and they want freedom, participation and dignity.” He vowed that the “UNFPA will place a special emphasis on today’s large generation of young people.

Watch the speech here.

We are delighted to hear this news! We are eager to see how this commitment to youth will affect the landscape of global reproductive health programming. Thank you, Dr. Osotimehin!