World Population Day, which seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989. It was an outgrowth of the interest generated by the Day of Five Billion, which was observed on 11 July 1987.
Each year on 11 July, a number of UNFPA Country Offices and other organizations and institutions mark the day with a variety of activities to bring attention to population issues. UNFPA, which sponsors the observance, publishes posters and other advocacy materials for this purpose.
UNFPA is entirely supported by voluntary contributions of donor governments, intergovernmental organizations, private sector groups and foundations and individuals, not by the UN regular budget. In 2005, most UN Member States – some 172 countries – contributed to UNFPA.
The Fund is a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly. It reports to the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board of 36 UN Member States on administrative, financial and programme matters and receives overall policy guidance from the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The Executive Board is composed of 36 members: eight from Africa, seven from Asia and the Pacific, four from Eastern Europe, five from Latin America and the Caribbean, and 12 from Western Europe and other developed countries.
UNFPA promotes the right of all individuals to develop to their fullest potential. To exercise this right, all people, especially women, need access to information and services on reproductive health, including family planning and sexual health, to enable them to make informed and voluntary choices and decisions. As reflected in our mission statement, the Fund “supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.”
The mandate of UNFPA, as established by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1973 and reaffirmed in 1993, is (1) to build the knowledge and the capacity to respond to needs in population and family planning; (2) to promote awareness in both developed and developing countries of population problems and possible strategies to deal with these problems;(3) to assist their population problems in the forms and means best suited to the individual countries' needs; (4) to assume a leading role in the United Nations system in promoting population programmes, and to coordinate projects supported by the Fund.
At the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) these broad ideas were fleshed out in greater detail and developed to give more emphasis to the gender and human rights dimensions of population issues. UNFPA was given the lead role in helping countries carry out the Programme of Action, which was adopted by 179 governments at the Cairo Conference. Subsequent international agreements at ICPD+5, the Millennium Summit (2000) and the World Summit (2005) have linked UNFPA’s mandate with specific, time-bound goals, and given greater emphasis to the Fund’s role in HIV prevention and poverty reduction.
The three key areas of the UNFPA mandate -- reproductive health, gender equality and population and development strategies -- are summarized in its Mission Statement .