Jeffrey Sachs at the CPDIt’s definitely not every day, that you get to see a world-renowned economics professor and “saviour” of Bolivia and Poland up close and personal – okay, the latter may be a bit of a stretch and, to be honest, it is from the subtitle of a Vanity Fair portrait. Still, Jeffrey Sachs is somewhat of a pop star of development, best-selling author, Special Advisor to UN’s Secretary General, and he has frequently been named as one of, if not the most influential economists in the world today.

Jeffrey Sachs at the CPD (Commission on Population and Development)

I was therefore very excited to participate in a UN Experts Meeting on implications of the post-2015 era for population and development research last week, in which Mr. Sachs gave the key note!

What turned out to be not quite as exciting was, sadly, the context of this meeting. It took place in the framework of this year’s session of the UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD) from April 14th to 21st, a member state forum that meets once a year. I was lucky enough to, again, be part of the official German delegation and therefore get to support in the international negotiations on the resolution that is usually issued at the end of the session.

Tough negotiations on SRHR

Jeffrey Sachs at the CPDThese are always tough and sometimes frustrating, since some countries decidedly oppose several issues that are
encompassed in the bulky term ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights’ – such as contraception, access to family planning services, and abortion. Nonetheless, discussions had gone pretty well this year and it was all the more disappointing to hear the session’s chair pull the plug on a last round of negotiations in the end. This means that for the first time in 20 years, member states walked out of the session without a joint resolution to serve as a renewed commitment of all states to priorities such as the fulfilment of the human rights of women and girls or the elimination of HIV & Aids!

Jeffrey Sachs regularly says: ‘We have enough on the planet to make sure, easily, that people aren’t dying of poverty. That’s the basic truth’.  Similarly, the thousands of women and girls still dying from horridly unprofessional abortions every year are avoidable.

So, for next year, let’s hope that all those involved in the process recognize the contribution that the CPD can make in this and show a greater commitment to reaching a conclusion in the end!