The world marked a momentous event in international development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month, as Governments adopted a new global framework for financing sustainable development. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was adopted at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3), held on 13-16 July in the Ethiopian capital. It establishes a strong foundation to support the implementation of future development efforts.
The Addis Ababa Conference was the first in a series of landmark events leading up to the adoption of a new development agenda and a universal agreement on climate change by the end of this year.
Turning needs into investment opportunities
“Financing needs for sustainable development are high, but the challenges are surmountable,” said UN secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the opening of the Conference. “The Addis Ababa Action agenda will help to turn these needs into investment opportunities.”
At FFD3, governments agreed on a package of over 100 concrete measures that draw upon all sources of finance, technology, innovation, trade and data and that will support the implementation of a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted at a UN Summit in New York in September.
“This framework is a basis both for financing sustainable development and for developing sustainable finance,” said Mr Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General and Conference Secretary-General.
Collaborating on the formation of breakthrough commitments
Through plenary meetings, round tables, bilateral meetings and almost 200 side events, the various stakeholders in international development – Governments, financial and trade institutions, civil society and business sector entities – got the opportunity to collaborate on the formation of breakthrough commitments and goals across the development spectrum.
As part of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, countries committed to a new social compact to provide social protection and essential public services for all; a global infrastructure forum to bridge the infrastructure gap; an ‘LDC package’ to support the poorest countries; a Technology Facilitation Mechanism to advance to the SDGs; enhanced international tax cooperation to assist in raising resources domestically; and mainstreaming women’s empowerment into financing for development.
“The more funding we leverage — the more strategically we invest each dollar — means more children we will educate, more patients we will treat, and more vital services we will provide,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.
Measures to lift millions out of poverty
Throughout the week, stakeholders from developed and developing countries alike weighed in on the measures that Member States could and should take to lift millions out of poverty, ensure a sustainable future for our planet and make sure that nobody is left behind.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn acknowledged the relative success that the Millennium Development Goals — that were adopted in 2000 and will expire this year — has had within the African region.
“We are in a very different world to the one by which the MDGs were drawn up,” Desalegn said. “Much has been achieved; now, we need to build on that success. And we will need to make radical breakthroughs, too – because a business as usual approach will not take us anywhere near achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda was one of those historical breakthroughs, an agreement by stakeholders across the board setting the world on a renewed pathway to sustainability and prosperity for all.
Making Addis a turning point for development
“The target date for the realization of the SDGs may seem far and yet close, depending the perspective,” said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, in her address during the plenary meeting. ”What is certain is that the world has the resources and capacity to achieve every goal, We have an opportunity to make Addis Ababa a turning point in the scope and character of global framework for development cooperation. Indeed many of the measures incorporated […] are long sought after goals.”
The weeklong gathering was attended by 24 Heads of State and Government and Deputies, and more than one hundred Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation and Deputies, as well as other high ranking Government officials from 174 countries.
Many heads of UN agencies and senior representatives of international organizations attended as well. In addition, more than 600 civil society organizations and networks and more than 400 business representatives took part in the Conference.
“This has been a historic Conference and a historic success – held on African soil, and delivering an outcome document that meets the high expectations of people around the world,” said Mr. Wu.
As the world sets sail onward to the two other events that will shape 2015 into a year of global change – the adoption of the Post 2015 development agenda in New York in September, and the United Nations Conference on climate change in Paris, in December – the international community can look back on the FFD3 Conference and the signing of the outcome document, as a first milestone to realize a sustainable future for all.
The current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to the “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision”, launched on 29 July. “Understanding the demographic changes […], as well as the challenges and opportunities that they present for achieving sustainable development, is key to the design and implementation of the new development agenda,” said Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General.
Most of the projected increase in the world’s population can be attributed to a short list of high-fertility countries, mainly in Africa, or countries with already large populations.
During 2015-2050, half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America (USA), Indonesia and Uganda, listed according to the size of their contribution to the total growth.
“India expected to become the largest country in population size, surpassing China around 2022, while Nigeria could surpass the United States by 2050″
World Population Prospects 2015
Shifts in the current population rankings
China and India remain the two largest countries in the world, each with more than 1 billion people, representing 19 and 18 % of the world’s population, respectively. But by 2022, the population of India is expected to surpass that of China.
Currently, among the ten largest countries in the world, one is in Africa (Nigeria), five are in Asia (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan), two are in Latin America (Brazil and Mexico), one is in Northern America (USA), and one is in Europe (Russian Federation).
Of these, Nigeria’s population, currently the seventh largest in the world, is growing the most rapidly. Consequently, the population of Nigeria is projected to surpass that of the United States by about 2050, at which point it would become the third largest country in the world. By 2050, six countries are expected to exceed 300 million: China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the USA.
Growing population in Africa
With the highest rate of population growth, Africa is expected to account for more than half of the world’s population growth between 2015 and 2050.
During this period, the populations of 28 African countries are projected to more than double, and by 2100, ten African countries are projected to have increased by at least a factor of five: Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.
“The concentration of population growth in the poorest countries presents its own set of challenges, making it more difficult to eradicate poverty and inequality, to combat hunger and malnutrition, and to expand educational enrolment and health systems, all of which are crucial to the success of the new sustainable development agenda,” said John Wilmoth, Director of UN DESA’s Population Division.
While there is always some degree of uncertainty surrounding any projection, the large number of young people in Africa, who will reach adulthood in the coming years and start having children of their own, ensures that the region will play a central role in shaping the size and distribution of the world’s population over the coming decades.
“Understanding the demographic changes that are likely to unfold over the coming years, as well as the challenges and opportunities that they present for achieving sustainable development, is key to the design and implementation of the new development agenda”
UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General
Slower world population growth due to lower fertility rates
Future population growth is highly dependent on the path that future fertility will take, as relatively small changes in fertility behaviour, when projected over decades, can generate large differences in total population.
In recent years, fertility has declined in virtually all areas of the world, even in Africa where fertility levels remain the highest of any major area.
Ageing population growing rapidly
The slowdown in population growth, due to the overall reduction in fertility, causes the proportion of older persons to increase over time. Globally the number of persons aged 60 or above is expected to more than double by 2050 and more than triple by 2100.
A significant ageing of the population in the next several decades is projected for most regions of the world, starting with Europe where 34 % of the population is projected to be over 60 years old by 2050. In Latin America and the Caribbean and in Asia, the population will be transformed from having 11% to 12% of people over 60 years old today to more than 25% by 2050.
Africa has the youngest age distribution of any major area, but it is also projected to age rapidly, with the population aged 60 years or over rising from 5% today to 9% by 2050.
Higher life expectancy and the contribution of the MDGs
Life expectancy at birth has increased significantly in the least developed countries in recent years. The six-year average gain in life expectancy among the poorest countries, from 56 years in 2000-2005 to 62 years in 2010-2015, is roughly double the increase recorded for the rest of the world.
While significant differences in life expectancy across major areas and income groups are projected to continue, they are expected to diminish significantly by 2045-2050.
Progress in reducing under-five mortality, one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets, has been very significant and wide-reaching in recent years.
Between 2000-2005 and 2010-2015, under-five mortality fell by more than 30% in 86 countries, of which 13 countries saw a decline of more than 50%. In the same time period, the rate decreased by more than 20% in 156 countries.
Young population creates opportunity to capture demographic dividend
Populations in many regions are still young. In Africa, children under age 15 account for 41% of the population in 2015 and young persons aged 15 to 24 account for a further 19%.
Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia, which have seen greater declines in fertility, have smaller percentages of children (26 and 24 %, respectively) and similar percentages of youth (17 and 16%, respectively). In total, these three regions are home to 1.7 billion children and 1.1 billion young persons in 2015.
These children and young people are future workers and parents, who can help to build a brighter future for their countries. Providing them with health care, education and employment opportunities, particularly in the poorest countries and groups, will be a critical focus of the new sustainable development agenda.
The 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects is the 24th round of official UN population estimates and projections that have been prepared by UN DESA’s Population Division.
Youth civic engagement, a main goal of the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on Youth, seeks to promote young people’s effective inclusive participation at all levels in society. There has been recent increasing attention and policy and programming focus on this issue by governments, UN entities, regional and multilateral organizations, CSOs, youth and researchers. This is also why the International Youth Day (IYD) celebrations will put this theme center stage this year.
Since the global financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009, young people have been progressively vocal and demonstrative of their demand and need for change. Youth-led protests and demonstrations have been largely driven by young people demanding a greater say in governance structures, employment and economic life, and societies more generally.
At the same time, with staggering youth unemployment figures, young people are being faced with the reality of leading a life with few job opportunities, increased vulnerability to poverty, and an education that does not adequately equip them for the ever changing demands of today’s labour market. Studies also show that youth participation remains limited in formal political processes and public institutions, with lower voter turnout among 18-25-year-olds.
“They [youth] are part of the first generation that can end poverty and the last that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change”
Youth participation critical for achieving new development agenda
By 2030, the target date for the new proposed sustainable development goals, the number of youth is projected to have grown by about 7 per cent, to nearly 1.3 billion.
“The world now has the largest generation of young people in history,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he addressed a high-level event on the demographic dividend and youth employment earlier this summer.
“I place great hopes in their power to shape our future. They are part of the first generation that can end poverty and the last that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” he said, also underscoring the necessity for the active involvement of youth in the global efforts to achieve sustainable development.
UN DESA, through the Focal Point on Youth, and the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, promotes a multi-dimensional approach to addressing the challenges young people face to have a full and effective participation in their social life and in decision-making while promoting social inclusion to enable all young people to achieve their aspirations and goals.
The Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, led by the co-chairs UN DESA and UNDP, is running an online campaign in the lead up to International Youth Day on 12 August. With the overarching aim of promoting youth participation at the political and public levels, leading to young people being able to fulfill their aspirations in life and contribute to society, the campaign provides a space for youth to share their stories and ideas on civic engagement activities.
Throughout the campaign, young people have been asked to submit photos and/or messages illustrating how they can get involved in their societies. Selected entries will be participating in the #YouthDay competition on the UN4Youth Facebook account. The winning photo will be the entry with the most Facebook “likes” and it will be showcased at the International Youth Day event at UN headquarters. It may also be used for the World Youth Report 2015 on Youth Civic Engagement.
Celebrating International Youth Day at UN Headquarters
Taking place in the ECOSOC Chamber at UN Headquarters from 10 am to 1 pm on 12 August, the IYD event is being organized by the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development and is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Portugal and the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic. It will bring together young people, youth organizations, Member State representatives, civil society, and UN entities to discuss the issue of youth civic engagement in particular looking at new and emerging issues and approaches to social and political engagement in different parts of the world.
Following opening remarks by the Secretary-General and high-level representatives, the event will highlight both traditional and emerging forms of civic engagement in the form of panel discussions. The first panel will bring new insights into the participation of young people in local and national political process and in the second panel, panelists will discuss the power of youth as global citizens.
The event will also highlight the upcoming 2015 World Youth Report, which will be focusing on the issue of economic, political and social participation of youth, responding to the increased concern and policy focus placed on the issue in recent years. In providing such an analysis, a strong link to youth engagement in the shaping and future implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) at both the national and global levels will be highlighted.
If you do not hold a UN grounds pass and wish to join the event, please RSVP here.
Call for worldwide commemoration
Running until August 12, the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development #YouthDay campaign is still encouraging young people to organize events to celebrate International Youth Day.
The IYD toolkit gives some ideas on what to do to commemorate the Day. Young people and UN entities are also encouraged to send their plans to firstname.lastname@example.org, so they can be mapped on the IYD Map of Events. Efforts are needed to raise awareness about the benefits of youth civic engagement to the individual as well as to society.