UNFPA seeks to improve the lives and expand the choices of individuals and couples. Over time, the reproductive choices they make, multiplied across communities and countries, alter population structures and trends.
UNFPA helps governments, at their request, to formulate policies and strategies to reduce poverty and support sustainable development. The Fund also assists countries to collect and analyse population data that can help them understand population trends. And it encourages governments to take into account the needs of future generations, as well as those alive today.
The close links between sustainable development and reproductive health and gender equality, the other main areas of UNFPA's work, were affirmed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. UNFPA is guided in its work by the Programme of Action adopted there. At the conference, 179 countries agreed that meeting needs for education and health, including reproductive health, is a prerequisite for sustainable development over the longer term. They also agreed on a roadmap for progress with the following goals:
Universal access to reproductive health services by 2015
Universal primary education and closing the gender gap in education by 2015
Reducing maternal mortality by 75 per cent by 2015
Reducing infant mortality
Increasing life expectancy
Reducing HIV infection rates