NEW YORK — Representatives from 20 non-governmental organizations and UNFPA staff met today to build partnerships to advocate for the inclusion of population issues into the agendas of upcoming international environmental events, especially 'Rio+20', a 20-year follow-up conference to the 1992 ' Earth Summit'.
Rio+20 will aim to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development, to assess progress towards internationally agreed goals on sustainable development, and to address new and emerging challenges. The Summit will also focus on two specific themes: a new “green economy” and its relationship to poverty eradication and sustainable development, and an institutional framework for sustainable development.
Twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, “as the world prepares to extend and expand the principles and pillars of sustainable development, it is essential that UNFPA bring its core mandate issues to bear on a new agreement,” said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, speaking at the start of the NGO gathering.
Ms. Obaid announced that UNFPA will launch an initiative at Rio+20 to apply gender, reproductive health and population dynamics to sustainable development by harnessing data from the 2010 round of censuses, together with other population data. “National-level capacity building for data analysis and use in policy-making will be at the centre of this initiative,” Ms. Obaid said.
Ms. Obaid said that the transition to the green economy requires greater understanding of the relationship among population dynamics and sustainable development. Taking these dynamics into account “will help to focus the sustainable development agenda on planning for the composition, distribution and movement of the population in the long term, which in turn shape areas vital to the green economy, such as food security, employment and occupational structure, health, social protection, agricultural production and environmental vulnerability,” Ms. Obaid said.
In the area of climate change, UNFPA in 2008 brought together a group of non-governmental organizations specializing in sexual and reproductive health that agreed on the importance of linking population issues to the global environmental debate. These organizations later formed the Population Climate Change Alliance. And in 2009, UNFPA’s State of World Population report explored the links between population dynamics, gender and climate change, particularly in the area of adaptation.
Rio+20 will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 14-16 May 2012.