Ladies and gentlemen
I would like to warmly welcome you to this meeting on behalf of the Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.
We have organized this briefing to seek your support to ensure that the Rio+20 Summit will conclude with a credible and sustainable development agenda. UNFPA beliefs that such agenda must contain the following vital issues: a) a clear recognition of the link between population dynamics and sustainable development; b) efforts to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and c) a commitment to address the needs of young people. These issues should also play a key role in the sustainable development goals which are currently under discussion.
The ICPD Programme of Action provides a helpful tool on how to integrate and address population issues in the context of Rio+20.
People are the central concern of sustainable development and efforts to promote more sustainable development pathways must take account of people – their numbers, location and age structures, as well as their living conditions, ambitions and opportunities.
World population has now surpassed the 7 billion mark, and will continue to grow by billions more. Efforts to further improve the quality of life of such a large and growing population, while ensuring the sustainable use of essential and finite natural resources is today’s greatest challenge. However, we can address this dual challenge. To do so, the Rio Declaration of 1992 (Principle 8) called for a two pronged approach: 1) a shift towards more sustainable consumption and production – which is the hallmark of the green economy – and 2) appropriate demographic policies.
National and International policies could influence population dynamics by realizing universal access to sexual and reproductive health and family planning and investing in the education and the empowerment of women and youth as set out in the ICPD Programme of Action and the Millennium Development Goals.
Such measures will improve the quality of life by reducing infant, child and maternal mortality and help arrest the spread of communicable diseases. Meeting unmet needs for family planning; reducing fertility and slowing population growth could create the conditions for a truly sustainable environment.
The importance of sexual and reproductive health was also emphasizes in the report of the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability entitled “Resilient people, resilient planet: a future worth choosing”, which recommended that countries should “Ensure universal access to quality and affordable family-planning and other sexual and reproductive rights and health services”.
We look upon your support to address the developmental implications of population dynamics, and to encourage the consideration of population dynamics in future international and national development strategies and policies. UNFPA looks forward to continue our cooperation with member states and key stakeholders to ensure a credible sustainable development agenda
With these introductory words, allow me to now introduce the panellists in the order in which they will be presenting.
The first speaker is Michael Herrmann who will outline why population matters for sustainable development, and will focus in particular on challenges and opportunities in the least developed countries.
The second speaker of today’s session is Ms. Suzana Cavenaghi who will speak on the importance of women’s choice and empowerment.
The final speaker is Mr. Babu Ram Pant who will provide a youth perspective on sustainable development.