Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States
47th Session of the Commission on Population and Development
7 April 2014, New York
Distinguished delegates and colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to address the Commission on Population and Development at the opening of its 47th session.
The current session of the Commission is particularly important. It marks the 20th anniversary of the landmark International Conference on Population and Development. It also precedes the special session of the General Assembly in September of this year. The September event will renew political support and high‑level commitment to the goals of the ICPD. It will also help define the work in the field of population and development for the years to come.
The theme of the Commission this year is devoted to an assessment of the status of implementation of the Programme of Action of the Cairo conference. In this regard, I want to express my appreciation to UNFPA, under the leadership of Dr. Babatunde, for its close collaboration with my Department and other stakeholders in undertaking the global operational review of the ICPD Programme of Action.
This assessment is happening at a critical moment, as Member States are elaborating new sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development agenda.
The formulation of the MDGs was strongly influenced by the priorities of the ICPD, in particular with regard to maternal and child health. Likewise, the findings and recommendations of the 20-year ICPD review will inform the new development agenda. Already, the priority themes of Cairo have reverberated in the discussions of the Open Working Group on questions of health, gender equality and population dynamics.
Over the years, the Commission on Population and Development has been instrumental in implementing and monitoring the goals and commitments set out in Cairo. This week, you have an opportunity to review the latest data and analysis on the state of the world’s population, and to share your national experiences. You have an opportunity to identify important themes and emerging issues for consideration by the General Assembly in September.
The world has seen much progress in the health and well-being of people in the two decades since Cairo. This Commission has much to celebrate for its contributions in guiding this positive change. Yet, many challenges remain.
For instance, while millions of people have been lifted out of extreme poverty, close to a billion people still live below the international poverty line of just over one dollar a day. Likewise, while education levels and life expectancies have increased in most countries, income inequalities and disparities in education and health have persisted or worsened within many countries.
On the demographic front, the world is facing unprecedented diversity. Many developing countries, especially the least developed countries, continue to experience high rates of population growth and increasing numbers of youth. By contrast, in countries with low fertility, population numbers are stable or in some cases even declining. These countries have begun to experience shrinking working-age populations and rapid population ageing. Such diversity has major implications for development planning.
Governments need to plan for the developmental consequences of population trends before they unfold. Such planning requires a thorough understanding of past trends and projections of future trends.
The ICPD Programme of Action strongly discouraged an explicit emphasis on demographic targets. Nonetheless, the evidence shows clearly that Governments can exercise a positive influence on population trends through rights-based policies that expand individual choices and opportunities.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The challenges of sustainable development, are inseparably linked to population patterns and trends. Therefore, the work of this session has direct relevance for preparations for the post-2015 development agenda.
Recognizing this intricate linkage, the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development affirmed that “human beings are at the centre of concern for sustainable development.” Two years later, the ICPD Programme of Action fully subscribed to and affirmed the Rio commitment, and called for the integration of population dynamics into development strategies and planning.
In 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, has reaffirmed the important linkages between sustainable development and population dynamics.
In the context of the ICPD goals and objectives, GA Resolution 65/234 stressed the importance of integrating population issues into global development processes, taking into account the need for a systematic, comprehensive and integrated approach to population and development issues.
Twenty years after the Cairo conference, the goals and commitments of the ICPD Programme of Action remain valid. They continue to provide crucial guidance in addressing fundamental developmental challenges facing the world today.
In closing, let me express DESA’s appreciation for the leadership of Ambassador Koncke, Chair of the current Bureau of the Commission on Population and Development, and other members of the Bureau in guiding the preparations for this session. I look forward to the Ambassador’s continued leadership over the course of this week and beyond.
I wish you much success in your deliberations in the coming days.