by Suzanna Dennis

Last week the eagerly awaited Southern country commitments from the London Summit on Family Planning hit the web.  They complement the $2.6 billion in “new” money that donors and the private sector pledged for family planning over the next 8 years.  No doubt these commitments will be on the agenda as Summit organizers meet in New York this week to discuss implementation.

But as I began analyzing the donor and Southern country pledges, I stopped to compare these with the flurry of other recent commitments to improve women’s health.  Then I came down with an overwhelming case of commitment fatigue.

Are the London Summit commitments really new?  How do they compare with the $5 billion in pledges made around The Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health?  And how do they build on the $40 billion in commitments to support Every Woman Every Child?  Do donors and government officials reflect on what they have achieved from the last summit before making the next set of commitments?  Do they even remember what they pledged?

Then I stopped myself, and tried to focus on the promise of the London Summit: raising an additional $4.3 billion to provide an additional 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries with access to contraceptives by 2020.  The Summit was a landmark event uniting 150 global leaders around this shared vision, and that should be celebrated.  From the Accountability Annex, we already knew that donors pledged $2.6 billion.  So I was looking for the Southern government commitments to fill an impressive $1.7 billion gap.

Total needed: $4.3 billion
Donors & private sector pledge: $2.6 billion
Funding Gap: $1.7 billion

I didn’t see a nice table with funding commitments from Southern governments in the Summaries of Commitments, so I put together my own based on the statements.

Summit Commitments

Click the image to download the table


There is a reason that the organizers did not put them into a matrix to begin with: all the commitments look different, they rarely include baselines or cumulative amounts, and they do not add up to a splashy “total” to put in a headline.   There may be $1.7 billion in resources committed, but I doubt if anyone knows for sure.  And it does not matter in the long run, so long as governments actually follow through on their commitments.

Will this Summit and all the other high-level declarations really make a difference? The jury is still out.

This is Part 1 in a two-part series on commitments from the London Summit on Family Planning. Click here for Part 2.