28 June 2001


NEW YORK, 28 June (UN Headquartes) -- Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the 2001 United Nations Population Award ceremony:

I am delighted to join you in paying tribute to the winners of the United Nations Population Award for the year 2001.

This is the nineteenth anniversary of the award. The intergovernmental Committee for the United Nations Population Award continues to do an excellent job in carrying out the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly to recognize outstanding contributions in this vital field of work.

Since its inception, the award has honoured 34 individuals and institutions.Today, we add two more winners to those admirable ranks.

Each has blazed a trail in their area of expertise. Each has inspired thousands of others to get involved in population issues.

Most of all, each has enabled people throughout the world to enjoy better standards of living. That is, of course, the ultimate test of our work.

The winner in the individual category is Dr. Nafis Sadik, known to you all as the long-time Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund. Nafis has played a central role in making the United Nations Population Fund one of the United Nations' great success stories. Her training as a medical doctor, her extensive experience working with the poor in Pakistan, and her exceptional leadership skills were a formidable combination during decades of dedicated service with the United Nations.

Not least, she was also the first woman executive head in the United Nations system.

With great courage and wisdom, Nafis helped to bring about enormous changes in the field, in particular as Secretary-General of the Cairo Conference on Population and Development. Where once the international community viewed population issues almost solely in terms of fertility, today we understand the need to look at women's and reproductive health in general. And where once population issues were seen in isolation, today they are viewed as an integral part of development.

Nafis's commitment to women's health and women's rights helped make this new paradigm possible. Millions of women and girls around the world -- and men, too, I should stress -- owe her a great debt of gratitude for these contributions. I, too, on a personal level, am grateful for the advice she rendered as a part of the UN management team in the past several years. And she continues to advise me. She richly merits this recognition and I have no doubt she will continue to be an important voice in the field.

This year's winner in the institutional category is the Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning, represented today by its distinguished Executive Director, Mr. Yasuo Kon.

The commitment of Mr. Kon's organization to the developing world is clear. With projects in 26 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, its presence is truly global. And with projects focusing on education and reproductive health, its efforts are making a real difference.

Some of these projects have focused on community-based approaches to family planning. Others have sought to build up a nation's precious human resources. Still others have mobilized funding. All of them have made a significant contribution to our collective efforts to meet the goals set by the Cairo and Beijing Programmes of Action.

The population of the world is now reaching successive milestones with alarming speed. It took the world 110 years -- from 1820 to 1930 -- to grow from 1 billion to 2 billion. It is now estimated that we will grow from 6 billion to 7 billion in less than 9 years.

Such numbers should be a call to action. I look forward to working with all of you in rising to this challenge. And I look forward to the inspiring contributions that will no doubt be made by future Population Award laureates in the years to come. Thank you very much.

* *** *