The Five Themes of Population & Development

The ICPD Programme of Action (PoA) reaffirms that the path to sustainable development is through the equitable achievement of dignity and human rights, good health, security of place and mobility and achievements secured through good governance and accountability. It also reaffirms that the responsibilities of goverenance extend to the national and global promotion of integrated social, economic and environmental sustainability in order to expend opportunity and well-being to future generations. These affirmations are derived from the five pillars central to the discussion of population and development.

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What are the five pillars of population and development?

Dignity & Human Rights

Dignity and Human Right

The primary attention to dignity and human rights is motivated by the assertion that completing the unfinished agenda of the International Conference will require a focused and shared commitment to human rights, non-discrimination and expanding opportunities for all. Any development agenda that aims at individual and collective well-being and sustainability has to guarantee dignity and human rights to all persons. Principle 1 of the Programme of Action affirmed that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and are entitled to human rights and freedom.



Everyone has a right to the highest available standard of health, and the significance of good health to the enjoyment of dignity and human rights and the importance of healthy populations to sustainable development are undeniable. The ICPD recognized the centrality of sexual and reproductive health and rights to health and development. Sexual and reproductive health and rights spans the lives of both women and men, offering individuals and couples the right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexual and reproductive health, and to do so free from violence and coercion. The achievement of universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights will depend on strengthening health systems by expanding their reach and comprehensiveness in a holistic manner.

Place & Mobility

Place and Mobility

Place and mobility encompass the social and spatial environments that we live in and move between. The importance of place and mobility as a thematic pillar resides in linking the large-scale trends and dynamics of population - household formation and composition, internal mobility and urbanization, international migration and land and displacement - to the achievement of both individual dignity and well-being and sustainable development. Section IV of the PoA reviews the changing social and spatial distributions of the human population since 1994, and puts forward approaches to integrating these changes into public policies so they can support the human needs for a safe and secure place to live and for mobility. It also highlights the need to ensure dignity and human rights for those whose security of tenure and freedom of movement are threatened.

Governance & Accountability

Governance and Accountability

Governance and accountability are the primary means of achieving these goals. The world has seen important shifts in the diffusion of authority and leadership since 1994, with a growing multiplicity of national, municipal, civil society, private sector and other non-State actors. The International Conference generated momentum at the national level for the creation and renewal of institutions to address population dynamics, sustainable development, sexual and reproductive health, the needs of adolescents and youth and gender equality. International human rights protection systems have gained in authority, jurisdiction and monitoring power, and the formal participation of civil society as a political force has grown measurably since 1994, yielding important shifts in rights-based investments. Yet the political power of private wealth has never been more promising, nor more threatening, to global development, demanding more representative and accountable public-sector global leadership.



Sustainability reaffirms the intrinsic linkages between the goals elaborated in the preceding paragraphs on dignity and human rights, health, place and mobility and governance, and underscores that discrimination and inequality must be prioritized in both the beyond 2014 and post-2015 agendas for the well-being of the human population and our common home, the planet. Environmental impacts, including climate change, affect the lives of all people, but particularly the poor and marginalized who have limited resources to adapt while having contributed the least to human-driven environmental change.

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