Pretoria: The BRICS Inaugural Seminar on Population Matters has highlighted common population challenges that require cooperation from all countries to develop new strategies.
Speaking at the meeting in Mpumalanga, on Sunday, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said Brazil, Russia, India, China and South African (BRICS) countries face challenges such as mainstreaming population factors into all aspects of the promotion, planning and management of economic and social development.
“Actions to this end must include the creation and implementation of appropriate institutional mechanisms.
“There is a greater need for BRICS Member States to commit to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to systematically consider population trends and projections to national (rural and urban) development strategies and policies,” Minister Dlamini said.
This seminar, she said, could therefore seize the opportunities and address the challenges associated with demographic phenomena and processes, including migration, declining fertility rates, rising life expectancy, ageing population and changes in production and consumption patterns, to name a few.
“We need to put special emphasis on taking advantage of the demographic dividend as the basis for policies to boost investment and social protection.
“Most importantly, we must fast track women’s entry into the labour market and find ways to reconcile work and family responsibilities.
“This goes hand in hand with the establishment of social safety nets and protective mechanisms for the world’s growing ageing population,” the minister said.
She said there is therefore a need to strengthen agencies responsible for population and development in BRICS Member States.
“While most BRICS Member States have an official agency for this purpose, more often than not those agencies have limited resources, capacities and little influence on policy matters,” the Minister Dlamini said.
She also highlighted the challenge of adoption of population and development policies and programmes geared to improving living standards.
“The analysis shows that societies can prosper under conditions of slow or no population growth.
“This can be achieved if countries are able to invest heavily in people’s education, health and employment opportunities independently of gender, age and origin,” the minister said.
Such barriers and challenges still hinder the realisation of people’s full potential and result in high socio-economic inequalities such as mortality and morbidity between countries and within a country and women’s economic empowerment, political leadership and participation in decision-making.
Others include large inequalities in access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, discrimination and social exclusion of migrants, minorities and other disadvantaged groups, and increasing inequalities in access to employment and income opportunities which affect particularly young people.
The last challenge, the minister mentioned, was to do with strengthening policies for sustainable development.
“To do this, we need to reflect on the interdependencies between population, environment and poverty, and to consider the prevention of adverse fallout on the environment from demographic factors, production and consumption patterns, and the linkages between them,” the minister said.
SOURCE: South African Official News