UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
Conference Secretary General Addresses UN General Assembly Debate on the report of the Economic and Social Council by the General Assembly's Second Committee provided Dr. Nafis Sadik, SecretaryGeneral of the International Conference on Population and Development, with an opportunity to present her perspectives on the 1994 Conference. The following are excerpts from her speech of 10 November 1992: "To set the scene for what lies ahead, it is useful to look back to the past two population conferences. Despite their titles, both of these conferences addressed the interrelationships between population and development. The Cairo Conference will go one step further -- by examining the integral linkages between population, sustained economic growth and sustainable development. Let us take a moment or two to highlight the particular relevance of the 1994 Conference. Many of you will remember the ceremonies in 1987 which marked the arrival of the five billionth human being on this planet. We do not have much longer to wait until the six billionth arrives -- only six years from now, at present growth rates. That would mean 11 years to add a billion people, an increase of twenty per cent. We are not faring very well in providing for these additional billion human beings, by most social and economic indicators. As we came to understand quite clearly through the UNCED process, the news is far from encouraging -- in the areas of food production, availability of freshwater, rates of pollution, generation of wastes, and inadequacy of health services and educational opportunities for millions of women and children. Rapid population growth is straining available resources, fuelling rapid urbanization and propelling uncontrolled migration. We see that the scorecard for the vast majority of people has not improved appreciably over the past decade. The challenge of the Rio process is also very much what we might call the challenge of Cairo, the challenge of the International Conference on Population and Development. The Rio process sought to ensure the fullest possible integration of environmental concerns into economic activities and vice versa. It succeeded for the simple reason that the realities it presented were too stark for the international community to ignore. Business as usual was simply not viable. The Cairo Conference must achieve similar results with regard to population concerns. To put it somewhat differently, it must address the 'quality of life' as well as the 'quantity of life'. It must address the first nine months and the next 99 years. Of particular importance is the need to address women's views and concerns on population issues. The success of the preparations for Cairo will depend heavily on active intergovernmental consultations and negotiations. We place equal importance on the widest possible involvement of parliamentarians, women's groups, non governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations and the private sector. We are particularly conscious of the importance of encouraging the participation of NGOs from developing countries in the preparatory process .... and we would like to encourage bilateral donors and foundations to provide financial support to NGOs for this purpose." The full text of Dr. Sadik's speech to the Second Committee is available from the Conference Secretariat.