The Population Institute received word earlier this week that Werner Fornos had passed away at the age of 79. Werner served as President of the Population Institute from 1982 to 2005 and while I did not know him well, I knew him well enough to know that he was greatly admired for his leadership on international family planning. He was a tireless champion of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and did so much to grow and sustain the Population Institute.
I first met Werner at a legislative retreat hosted by the Population Institute in 1985. At the time, I was legislative director for Rep. Morris K. Udall, a Congressional champion of international family planning. I remember being impressed by the great passion and intensity that Werner brought to his work. It’s what made him such a respected spokesperson on Capitol Hill and around the world. As one of his many admirers put it, “Werner is a force of nature.”
Very few people in this world have done as much as Werner did to build popular support for international family planning assistance. An accomplished and highly-popular speaker, he spoke to audiences around the world about population. During his tenure as President, the Population Institute played a major role in building public and Congressional support for UNFPA. During his presidency, the Institute also played a pioneering role in using entertainment media to increase awareness and acceptance of family planning in developing countries. Through the Population Institute’s Global Media Awards program, he gave much needed recognition to reporters, authors, editorial writers, cartoonists, and radio and television producers for their outstanding coverage of population issues. As a member of Rotary International, he actively promoted the Rotary Action Group on Population and Development, which today is doing so much to support family planning and reproductive health in developing countries.
Although he retired from the Population Institute in 2005, he continued to lecture widely about population and remained a fearless champion of family planning and women’s empowerment.
On behalf of Bill Ryerson, our Chair and CEO, and the staff of the Population Institute, we extend our deepest sympathies to his children and grandchildren and to Moyne Gross, his life partner. He will be missed.
Posted by Robert J. Walker, President