Friends and Colleagues,
It is wonderful for me to have been invited to speak at
this closing ceremony for the Global Population Forum 2004,
which is marking the 10th anniversary of the International
Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. In the
past three days, The Forum's central events have been enriched
by the presence of outstanding experts and included sessions
on four key topics: Aging, HIV/AIDS, Migration, and Reproductive
Health and Rights. I would like to express my heartfelt
congratulations to the President of the Population Institute,
Mr. Werner Fornos, and to the President of Population 2005
and Permanent Observer to the UN for Partners in Population
and Development, Mr. Jyoti Shankar Singh, for having organized
this Forum that has effectively contributed to keeping population
issues high on the international political agenda.
brief remarks, I would like to bring to your attention the
special situation of the poorest countries in the world,
and underscore the need to further promote concrete partnerships
among key players in the areas which have direct impact
on population issues.
present capacity as the UN High Representative with the
responsibilities that cover the three most vulnerable groups
of countries -- the Least Developed Countries (LDC), the
Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDC) and the Small Island
Developing States (SIDS), I would like to point out that
the development efforts of these countries are closely interlinked
with the many dimensions of the population issues - and
continue to have serious impact on the attempts by these
struggling nations to achieve the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs). I also believe that success in dealing with
the challenges posed by the population issues could bring
about positive results in many other areas.
undeniable that the fight undertaken by the Least Developed
Countries to overcome poverty and free themselves from the
shackles of hunger and disease is being seriously hampered
by rapid population growth and its "dragging"
effect upon all of their social and economic development
efforts. Recognizing this fully, the Brussels Programme
of Action adopted in May 2001 for the development of the
LDCs during the present decade devoted a whole section to
the "population" issues under its commitment entitled:
"Building human and institutional capacities".
It reaffirms that the goals and targets of the Programme
will be pursued in conformity with the Cairo Programme of
Action on Population and Development and its subsequent
five-year review decisions.
LDCs have committed to strengthen population policies and
strategies consistent with internationally agreed goals
and objectives, as well as with the particular circumstances
and demographic trends in their respective countries as
an integral part of their development policies. The LDCs
also agreed to strengthen basic health care systems and
increasing access to, and availability of, the widest range
of quality health care, including reproductive health and
sexual health care and promoting reproductive rights as
defined in the ICPD Programme of Action, in the broader
context of health sector reform, with particular emphasis
on maternal and child health.
in the MDGs, the Brussels Programme has also incorporated
the targets for the LDCs relating to reduction in infant
and maternal mortality as well as in HIV/AIDS infections.
The development partners, in turn, committed to provide
enhanced and strengthened support to LDCs in their efforts
to build national capacity for formulating and implementing
population and development policies and strategies. The
Brussels Programme also recognizes the need for addressing
effectively the emerging challenges relating to labour supply
and internal migration and the development partners agreed
to provide technical, financial and other forms of support
to LDCs to improve conditions of labour supply and mitigate
problems of migration.
LDCs face serious challenges in their population growth.
As highlighted graphically in a recent UN Report, in the
period between 1994 and 2004, the growth rate of the LDCs
in particular remained very high at 2.4 per cent, especially
when compared with the rate of growth in the more developed
regions of the world, which is only 0.3 per cent. Africa,
the continent that hosts 34 out of the 50 LDCs, is the fastest
growing major area.
the population of LDCs stood at 736 million persons (that
is 11.5 per cent of the world population). By 2015, it is
projected to reach 942 million people (that is 13.1 per
cent). This means that between now and 2015, when the MDGs
are expected to be met, there will be 206 million more people
living in the LDCs. Addition of more than two hundred million
in their populations would make it nearly impossible for
the LDCs to achieve the MDGs.
the average total fertility rate (TFR) of the LDCs is estimated
at 5.1 children per woman in the period 2000 to 2005, much
higher than the average 2.9 children per woman for the developing
regions as a whole. Among the LDCs, seven countries have
a TFR of more than 7 children per woman. Based on recent
trends, however, such indicator is expected to decline to
4.4 children by 2010-2015.
context, empowerment of women, their involvement in all
sectors of social and economic activity and the improvement
in women's health care and educational opportunities, especially
for the benefit of girls, are critical to the development
prospects of the LDCs.
galloping growth, since 1994, of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has
made population and development issues even more starkly
dramatic for many of the poorest countries. The magnitude
of the challenge becomes apparent when we find that 29 of
the 53 heavily-infected countries are LDCs. As a matter
of fact, in four African countries, the size of the population
will decline due to the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS
scourge, which is responsible for the high level of mortality
experienced by many LDCs.
staggering figures and statistics underscore very clearly
the urgent need for enhanced support of the development
partners to the efforts being made by the LDCs in implementing
effective population policies in their countries. The interlinkages
among the goals and objectives of the Brussels and Cairo
Programmes of Action should be kept in focus in a coherent
a view to promoting dialogue and interaction among relevant
stakeholders, particularly among the representatives of
the LDCs and of their development partners, on these pressing
human development issues, in the autumn of 2003, my Office,
in close cooperation with the Office of the Permanent Observer
of Partners in Population and Development to the UN, organized
a series of four symposia on the broad theme of Population
and the Millennium Development Goals with special focus
on the LDCs and broken down in four areas: (1) Population
and the MDGs; (2) Family Planning, Reproductive Health and
Development; (3) Empowerment of Women, and (4) Population
and HIV/AIDS. The proceedings of these symposia are available
in four booklets published by the Partners in Population
me conclude by emphasizing again that eradication of poverty
and achievement of other development goals by the LDCs would
depend in a large measure upon successful response to population
and related issues in an integrated and coordinated way.
To this end, an incredibly effective role can be played
by strong partnerships between civil society, advocacy groups,
professional organizations, media, parliamentarians and
the United Nations system.