‘Unlock opportunities’ and pave the way for sustainable development, UN chief urges on World Population Day


NEW YORK, 11th July, 2019 (WAM) -- As the number of people on the planet continues to rise, UN Secretary-General António Guterres marked World Population Day by highlighting the close link between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and demographic trends – urging everyone to "unlock opportunities for those left behind and help pave the way for sustainable, equitable and inclusive development for all".

"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", he said in a statement on Thursday. "Other countries are facing the challenge of aging populations, including the need to promote healthy active ageing and to provide adequate social protection".

Moreover, 68 percent of the world population is projected to live in urban areas by 2050, which will place the responsibility of sustainable development and mitigating climate change on the shoulders of planners across the world who are trying to manage urban growth.

"While managing these population trends, we must also recognize the relationship between population, development and individual well-being", flagged the UN chief, pointing out that world leaders first detailed the links between population, development and human rights 25 years ago, at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), where 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", he maintained.

Despite progress in lowering maternal mortality and unintended pregnancies, many challenges remain.

Women’s rights are being pushed backed globally; pregnancy-related issues remain the leading cause of death among girls aged 15 to 19; and gender-based violence continues to take a horrific toll.

Mr. Guterres said that 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" and "carrying forward" its vision, the Secretary-General concluded.

The Day was first marked on 11 July 1990 in more than 90 countries. Since then, a number of a number of UN Population Fund (UNFPA) country offices and other organizations and institutions commemorate World Population Day, in partnership with governments and civil society.

Current estimates indicate that roughly 83 million people are being added to the world’s population every year. Even assuming that fertility levels will continue to decline, the global population is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to the medium-variant projection.

WAM/Tariq alfaham