I would like to thank UNFPA and the co-hosts for organising this luncheon event on the way to Nairobi.
Norway strongly supports the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action. We were deeply engaged in Cairo, and have had a strong commitment to the ICPD over the last 25 years.
The ambition of leaving no one behind is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. This means that, in order achieve the SDGs, we must reach and include those who have fallen furthest behind. This is a key priority for the Norwegian Government.
Inadequate access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is affecting entire communities, particularly women and adolescents.
Norway has increased its financial support to sexual and reproductive health and rights. We believe that women and girls should be able to decide freely if, when and with whom they want to have children, and how many children they want to have.
We are working in various partnerships to protect women’s rights and promote gender equality, and we committed ourselves to ending sexual and gender-based violence at the Oslo conference in May this year.
To reach SDG 5.3 on eliminating all harmful practices, we all need to accelerate our efforts significantly. Norway is ready to play its part. We will launch a strategy for our international work against harmful practices later this year. It will focus on three specific practices: child marriage, female genital mutilation and son preference.
The universal health coverage (UHC) agenda highlights that health is an important responsibility of states and critical for sustainable social and economic development.
Of course, no country can afford to offer unlimited health services. Setting priorities is vital in any effective public engagement in health.
Exactly which services are prioritised and how they are delivered must be decided by each country. These decisions should be made on the basis of impact and equity.
From our national experience, we know how important it is to provide good quality services and medicines for women, young people, infants and children. We have integrated SRH services into our primary health care. If comprehensive SRH services are integrated into universal health coverage, this will safeguard achievements already made and accelerate progress towards SDG3, SDG5 and other SDGs.
As low- and lower-middle income countries have the greatest health challenges but the least resources and capacity, we recognise that the international community has an important responsibility to support countries in their efforts to develop effective, sustainable, affordable and equitable health services.
However, sustainable financing for UHC, as well as for ICPD unfinished business, depends on increased domestic resource mobilisation and better use of funds.
Although pooling mechanisms such as health insurance systems may play a key role in service access, increased revenue from taxation is needed to fund the full range of SRHR.
Through our Tax for Development programme, Norway supports countries in their efforts to increase their tax revenue through improved collection, and enhanced capacity to administer and manage these funds. We also support efforts to strengthen financing through the Global Financing Facility (GFF) and the World Bank, as well as efforts in collaboration with other organisations, such as WHO and the Global Fund.
Civil society organisations are also playing a crucial role, for example in promoting financing mechanisms such as the GFF.
Norway welcomes the African Union Assembly Decision entitled “The Addis Ababa Commitments towards Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity for Increased Health Financing”.
We further support the WHO lead on the development of the SDG 3 + Global Action Plan to accelerate sustainable financing. Mobilizing adequate and sustainable revenues for achieving the health-related SDGs to ensure that no-one is left behind is at the core.
We are on the way to Nairobi, and we hope that the summit will create the political momentum needed to address the unfinished agenda. The needs of those left furthest behind makes the financing of the ICPD unfinished agenda an imperative.
I look forward to engaging further in Nairobi.