Statement

The Secretary-General's Message on World Population Day

11 July 2019
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Statement of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the world’s blueprint for a better future for all on a healthy planet.  On World Population Day, we recognize that this mission is closely interrelated with demographic trends including population growth, ageing, migration and urbanization. 

While the world’s population overall continues to increase, this growth is uneven. For many of the world’s least developed countries, the challenges to sustainable development are compounded by rapid population growth as well as vulnerability to climate change. Other countries are facing the challenge of ageing populations, including the need to promote healthy active ageing and to provide adequate social protection. As the world continues to urbanize, with 68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, sustainable development and climate change will increasingly depend on the successful management of urban growth.  

While managing these population trends, we must also recognize the relationship between population, development and individual well-being.  Twenty-five years ago, at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), world leaders first spelt out the links between population, development and human rights, including reproductive rights. They also recognized that promoting gender equality is both the right thing to do and one of the most reliable pathways to sustainable development and improved well-being for all. 

This year's World Population Day calls for global attention to the unfinished business of the Cairo ICPD Conference.

Despite progress in lowering maternal mortality and unintended pregnancies, many challenges remain. Around the world, we are seeing pushback on women’s rights, including on essential health services.  Issues related to pregnancy are still the leading cause of death among girls aged 15 to 19. Gender-based violence, which is rooted in inequality, continues to take a horrific toll. 

In November, a summit marking the 25th anniversary of the Cairo Conference will take place in Nairobi.  I encourage Member States to participate at the highest levels and to make firm political and financial commitments to realize the Programme of Action of the ICPD.  

Carrying forward the vision of the ICPD will unlock opportunities for those left behind and help pave the way for sustainable, equitable and inclusive development for all.

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