Statement by Mr. Arthur Erken, Director, Policy and Strategy Division, UNFPA at the International Webinar for Sharing Best Practices in RH/FP and Population from PPD Member-Countries


Thank you,  Mr. Adnene Ben Haj Aissa, Executive Director of PPD

Her Excellency Minister Lindiwe Zulu, Ministry of Social Development, South Africa; and Chair of the PPD Board

Dr. Hasto Wardoyo, Honorable Chairman of BKKBN, Indonesia; and Treasurer of the PPD Board

Friends and colleagues from PPD, who are truly partners of UNFPA for the achievement of the ICPD PoA and the Three Transformative Goals

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening.


I am the new director of the Policy and Strategy Division of UNFPA but I am not new to PPD. To start with, I was very lucky to be with many PPD friends at the ICPD in 1994 when the PPD was given birth to. More recently, I was with many of you at the PPD Strategic Planning Meeting in Taicang, China, in July 2019, conducting a discussion on the Nairobi Summit. As then-director of the Division of Communication and Strategic Partnerships, I was a lead organizer of the ICPD@25 Nairobi Summit in November 2019, and I was grateful for the strong participation and commitments of the PPD Member-States at the Summit. Post-Summit, we were honored that Minister Zulu made herself available as a member of the High-Level Committee that monitors the progress towards fulfilling the commitments made at the Summit.

Earlier in my career, I was the UNFPA Representative to Bangladesh, where PPD headquarters are located.  So, you see, I am an old friend of PPD and I hope that in my role as Director of Policy and Strategy at UNFPA, I can be instrumental in strengthening the UNFPA-PPD partnership in leveraging South-South and triangular cooperation for our shared goals.

Relevance of this event

Today’s event of “sharing best practices in Reproductive Health, Family Planning and Population from PPD member-countries” is important in promoting SSTC. At UNFPA, we believe that knowledge management is a strategy for programmatic success, such that we constantly seek to extract knowledge from field experiences, document them and share them widely with the hope that they guide our programme managers, raise the capacity of our programme partners and inspire our stakeholders. But knowledge kept in databases is useless if it is not utilized.  It needs to be curated, woven into programming guidance, celebrated in advocacy initiatives, and shared actively in various means so that it informs the decision-making of policy makers.  Knowledge must be dynamic, vetted, and timely.  Thus, our exercise today is necessary, and I commend PPD for it.  Let us endeavor to learn and be inspired by the best practices to be shared today and adapt them to our individual contexts.  Let us recognize the presenters who took the effort to reflect on the lessons of their experience and generously shared them with us.

Benefits of SSTC to programmes

Knowledge is also instrumental in one other modality that is particularly important to PPD and also to UNFPA – South-South and Triangular Cooperation. Programmatic best practices are the catalyst of South-South partnership.  SSTC initiatives are formed for the purpose of, among others,  sharing of knowledge across countries.  Based on a recent study on costing of SSC conducted by UNFPA, in collaboration with Avenir Health, a global  think tank specialising in development program research,  we know the following:

  1. SSTC generates significant direct returns to investment.  The study of a specific Thailand SSTC case on midwifery found that every dollar of investment generated four dollars of social returns.
  2. SSTC generates knowledge that is highly relevant to development contexts, thus provides effectiveness and efficiency in achieving results.
  3. SSTC mobilizes domestic financing as governments realize that investment in SSTC not only enables them to meet their development objectives but also contributes to their international relations goals.
  4. SSTC provides resilience as the sharing of in-kind and knowledge resources allows it to operate even in low-funding situations. It is also an effective tool to mobilize global solidarity to protect the gains of ICPD.
  5. SSTC has significant knock-on effects in the form of scaled-up partnership, expansion to other thematic or geographic areas, and general increase in harmony and peacebuilding across nations.
  6. Finally, SSTC is a growing movement as evidenced by the strong commitments at the BAPA+40 Conference in Buenos Aires in 2019, in various international events since then, and in the dynamism of PPD itself.  We will be negligent if we fail to capitalize on this movement for ICPD goals.

Moving forward on South-South and triangular cooperation

These are what we at UNFPA think we can do together with partners such as PPD to strengthen SSTC:

  1. Upscaling SSTC – There has been a recent independent evaluation of SSTC in UNFPA. We agree with the evaluation finding that SSTC has been an effective programme strategy under our current Strategic Plan. Guided by the Management Response that was accepted by the Executive Board, UNFPA will upscale SSTC as a programme strategy in its own right under the new Strategic Plan. This move is also aligned with the calls of the participants of the Middle-Income-Countries consultation last week that the PCCs of some of the PPD Member Countries graciously attended.
  2. Knowledge management - Knowledge is power. We should continue to create knowledge and share it widely.  Programmatic best practices should be shared through the South-South Galaxy and in events like this one.
  3. Capacity building – Guided by our BAPA and Nairobi commitments, let us continue to strengthen the capacity of countries and agencies to do SSTC – strengthening national policies and coordinating mechanisms to conduct  SSTC, as well as monitoring and reporting progress.
  4. Partnership facilitation – Let us raise the demand for SSTC partnership.  On the supply side, let us support SSTC centers of excellence as proven, capable, sustainable and highly-visible sources of potential partnerships.


On behalf of UNFPA, I thank you for this opportunity to reinforce our longtime partnership. I look forward to today’s activity of learning from your experiences.  I reassure you of my personal and institutional support from UNFPA to South-South and triangular cooperation and to the Partners in Population and Development.

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