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Roundup: UN Chief Underlines Role Of Population Development In Achieving Global Sustainable Development


 April 12th, 2016  |  08:46 AM  |   995 views



UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday said that the UN body in charge of population development is very crucial in advancing the new global development agenda.


Addressing the opening of the 2016 session of the Commission on Population and Development, Ban said: "This Commission has a proud tradition of focusing on people."


The UN body addresses issues related to the timeless opening words of the UN Charter: "We the Peoples," the secretary-general said.


Above all, people are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said of the 15-year vision unanimously adopted last year by UN member states.




Ban highlighted the importance of understanding demographic trends, a pillar of the Commission's work, in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), approved by world leaders in September last year to serve as the blueprint for the global development efforts for the next 15 years.


"We all understand that people can never be reduced to mere numbers," he said. "At the same time, statistics are essential for tracking progress. When people are not counted, they are excluded.  To live up to the commitment to 'leave no one behind,' we have to make sure everyone is counted."


Governments will have to gather census data and use it to understand demographic change because that will help them develop effective plans, he said.


"When I was born, my parents didn't record the date of my birth, " Ban said, noting that families were understandably worried that babies would not survive, and waited until they were sure that their babies were able to survive.


That's why his and his wife's passport dates of birth are actually different from their real ones, he said, expressing concern that in some countries, that kind of practice still persists. He urged all countries to have archives of these records and guarantee the rights of citizenship and identity to all.


Data is also critical to providing optimal public health services and to ending inequalities, he added.




Sustainable development demands securing sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women and young people, the secretary-general said.


Many countries have empowered women and men to make their own decisions about the timing and spacing of their children. While this leads to lower birth rates, countries can benefit from a demographic dividend by providing education and other opportunities, especially for youth, he said.


In some countries, very low fertility levels are causing population decline. Rural areas are being de-populated, and losing their economic vitality. In other countries, where reproductive health care is lacking, fertility rates remain high. These countries struggle to match the pace of population growth with an expansion of economic output, infrastructure and services.


Elsewhere, countries struggle to provide health care and pensions, with their workforce aging and the number of retirees increasing. Some governments have responded by raising the retirement age and expanding opportunities for older persons to have an active life.


The world now has the largest generation of young people in history, and to unleash their potential, there is a need to invest more in education, opportunities and services for youth, he said.


"The United Nations is proud to support efforts to put all people at the heart of development. This is the spirit of the 2030 Agenda," he said.




However, Ban warned that "one of the most dramatic population trends of our times is mass displacement," noting that the numbers are astronomical with some 60 million people displaced either within countries or internationally, and thousands of desperate migrants dying on dangerous journeys.


The World Humanitarian Summit, which will be convened next month in Istanbul, Turkey, will bring leaders together to agree on a core set of actions that will chart a course for real progress, and then on Sept. 19, just one day before the general debate, the UN General Assembly will hold a high-level meeting to address the challenges of large population movements, he said.


Mwaba Patricia Kasese-Bota, the commission chair, said 2016 was a crucial year as the United Nations was being reshaped to deliver on its promise of assisting member states in implementing the 2030 Agenda.


At the same time, the Commission continued with its mandate to support the implementation of the Programme of Action of International Conference on Population and Development that was adopted in Cairo in 1994.


As both agendas placed a strong emphasis on the importance of data, the Commission's session would focus on the demographic evidence base, which was built on a foundation of data, she said.


The availability of reliable and timely demographic data was essential for planning and implementing interventions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to monitor progress toward their achievement. The 2030 Agenda was of the people, by the people and for the people, she said.  




by Xinhua News Agency


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