Speakers in Population and Development Commission Stress Importance of Accurate, Disaggregated Data to Inform National Policymaking, Attain Global Goals

Accurate, disaggregated and updated data on population was essential for policymaking and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Commission on Population and Development heard today as it concluded its general debate.

Improvements in censuses and household surveys were paramount for informing evidence based policies on sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration, said the Senior Policy Officer in Germany’s Ministry of the Interior. More broadly, she underscored the importance of accurate, timely and comprehensive data for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

That was especially true in addressing the issue of migration, said the Senior Adviser in Norway’s Statistics Bureau, who welcomed the importance placed on high quality comparative data in ongoing efforts to forge the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and the global compact on refugees.

Delegates underlined their use of the data produced by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which the United States representative said had helped States document the interrelationships, challenges and progress made towards integrating population issues into the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of sustainable development policies. Mexico’s delegate added his Government had used the statistical methodology promoted by the Division.

The Commission heard similar experiences from civil society groups, with the speaker from the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population describing a heavy reliance on data and publications generated by the Population Division to strengthen the evidence base on why and how family planning mattered in rapidly developing urban centres in Africa and Asia.

Introducing the Secretary General’s report on Programme implementation and progress of work in the field of population in 2017, Cheryl Sawyer, Senior Population Affairs Officer in the Population Division, presented findings on the international migrant stock data set, which contained original estimates of the number of people living outside their country of birth, disaggregated by age and sex, or by country of origin and country of destination. The Division’s data was also used indirectly for monitoring many of the Sustainable Development Goals and indicators.

Cuba’s delegate, however, expressed some reserve, noting that while global estimates and projections provided were an important point of reference, the responsibility for assessing the development goals on the national and sub national level required efforts from national statistical divisions.

Also speaking today were representatives of Japan, Jamaica and Azerbaijan.

Representatives of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) also spoke.

Other speakers were from the Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, Rutgers University, International Federation for Family Development, New Zealand Family Planning Association, International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants, C-Fam Inc., International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, World Youth Alliance and the Fertility Education and Medical Management Foundation.

Frank Swiaczny, Chief of the Population Studies Branch, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary General’s report titled World demographic trends. John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division, also made an intervention.

The Commission will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Friday, 13 April, to conclude its session.

Programme Implementation and Future Work Programme of the Secretariat

FRANK SWIACZNY, Chief of the Population Studies Branch, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary General’s report titled World demographic trends (document E/CN.9/2018/5), stressing that there were an estimated 7.6 billion people on Earth. That number was projected to grow to 8.6 billion in 2030, and nearly 9.8 billion by 2050. Future projections suggested that, due to the declining fertility rate, the global population would grow at a slower pace and could stabilize at about 11 billion people by the end of the century. There was considerable variation in demographic trends across countries and geographic regions, he said, as well as across development and income groups.

CHERYL SAWYER, Senior Population Affairs Officer, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on Programme implementation and progress of work in the field of population in 2017 (document E/CN.9/2018/6). In the last year, the Population Division had released an update of the international migrant stock data set, containing original estimates of the number of people living outside their country of birth, disaggregated by age and sex, or by country of origin and country of destination. The Division also had published original data on Government population policies, with its data sets and associated reports strengthening the substantive support provided to intergovernmental processes. Further, the Division also worked in support of the monitoring of international agreed development goals, with its data indirectly used for the global monitoring of many other Sustainable Development Goal indicators.

JUAN CARLOS ALFONSO FRAGA, Director, Centre for Population and Development Studies of Cuba, said following up on and measuring progress on the relevant international agreements, including the Sustainable Development Goals, required significant effort in his country. While the estimates and projections provided by the Population Division were an important point of reference, the responsibility for assessing the development goals on the national and sub national level required efforts from national statistical divisions.

REIKO HAYASHI, Director, Department of International Research and Cooperation at the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research of Japan, requested further information on the anticipated reform within the Population Division.

SILJE VATNE PETTERSEN, Senior Adviser, Statistics Bureau of Norway, welcomed the importance placed on high quality comparative data in the ongoing work of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and the global compact on refugees. Norway was a member of the expert group on refugee and internally displaced persons statistics under the United Nations Statistical Commission, and anticipated its recommendations on comparable data for both of these groups. The inclusion of the variable reason for migration in the united nations handbook on measuring international migration through population censuses for 2020 was welcomed. Norway was committed to support countries in the global South in implementing the recommendations.

MENGJUN TANG, Population and Development Research Center of China, praised the work of the Population Division, whose products helped countries devise population policies, projections and analyses. She particularly commended its assistance to China and encouraged the Division to continue its work with a more systematic use of new technologies.

MARTINA HEMMERSBACH, Senior Policy Officer, Ministry of the Interior of Germany, welcomed the recent initiatives of the Population Division and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in cooperating intensely with the academic community, which had improved the accessibility, usage and visibility of its data. Germany believed strongly in having accurate, timely and comprehensive data for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Improvements in censuses and household surveys were the paramount interest of evidence based policymaking on sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration. Germany recently had increased its support for making methodological progress on population research, as well as expanding the infrastructure for analysing links between internal and international migration, human mobility and urbanization in the national context.

Ms. SHORT (United States) called attention to the Population Division’s efforts to provide updated data and analysis of the levels and trends in the international migration stock, as well as population estimates and projections for countries worldwide. In the area of health and mortality, the Population Division continued to provide data sets and analysis, and had made major contributions to the collective understanding of world health and mortality trends. The Division was also to be commended for its work in the important area of ageing populations. Those efforts had helped the global community document the interrelationships, challenges and progress made towards integrating population issues into the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of sustainable development policies and programmes. The ongoing expansion of its website also had made population information more accessible.

JOHN WILMOTH, Director of the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said reforms under way within the Population Division were part of the larger Department of Economic and Social Affairs reform effort and stemmed from a previous General Assembly resolution. The Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs had requested various Divisions to initiate reform processes, some of which were purely internal in nature, although some portions included shifting work and functions across Divisions. He went on to note that for the Population Division, the reform process was being taken from an internal perspective.

The representative of Mexico noted that the work of the Secretariat had helped his country in the implementation of population policies and programmes in an informed manner and had aided in the promotion of South South cooperation. Mexico also had implemented the statistical methodology promoted by the Population Division.

General Debate

TONI SHAE FRECKLETON, Manager, Population and Health Unit, Social Policy, Planning and Research Division of Jamaica, aligning herself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said Jamaica was mainly an emigrant country where 54 per cent of the population lived in urban areas, a figure which was projected to quickly grow. As a small island developing State, Jamaica was vulnerable to disaster and climate change because most of its cities were coastally oriented. Some of the potential effects included sea level rise, increased drought and more intense storms. In response, the Vision 2030 Jamaica national development plan focused on local governance, improved citizen participation in decision making, creation of a National Spatial Plan and review of the National Settlement Strategy. Jamaica also had begun to explore the integration of information and communications technology into urban planning as a way to generate data and improve city functioning, and had adopted a policy position for international migration that benefited countries of origin, destination and migrants themselves.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said that his Government was working to bolster urban infrastructure and improve access to services, jobs, health care and drinking water. It attached great importance to housing issues. Amid unprecedented levels of forced displacement, international migrants currently represented 3.4 per cent of the global population, and thus could contribute to inclusive growth and sustainable development. Social and political stability, rapid economic development and large regional and international projects were major factors that fostered greater migration to Azerbaijan.

NAGESH KUMA, Director, Social Development Division, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said the Asia Pacific region faced numerous population and development challenges. Although increases in ageing populations were a universal phenomenon, the speed at which that process was taking place in the Asia Pacific region posed unique challenges. The Commission had launched a number of initiatives aimed at promoting greater inclusion for young people. Noting that most migration in the region was South South and interregional in nature, he said the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific would seek to support States in the implementation of a global compact on migration through a comprehensive regional follow up and review process. Countries in the region continued to face critical policy challenges stemming from ongoing demographic transitions.

Ms. ELLIOTT, World Food Programme, said two thirds of the world’s population would live in cities by 2050, making it impossible for countries to meet targets under Sustainable Development Goal 2, to achieve zero hunger, without also focusing on Goal 11 to make cities sustainable. The World Food Programme (WFP) policy on urban food insecurity, adopted in 2002, was being updated in line with the New Urban Agenda and encompassed Sustainable Goals 2, 11, 16 and 17. The New Urban Agenda recognized that food insecurity and nutrition were crucial considerations, while highlighting the particular vulnerabilities of newly arrived marginalized groups. A large portion of international migrants had been forced to abandon their places of origin as a result of economic hardship, food insecurity, climate change and conflict. Noting that States must address the food and nutrition concerns of vulnerable migrants, she also advocated renewed efforts to tackle the drivers of unprecedented uncontrolled migration flows, notably through greater investments in rural development, as well as promoting climate change adaptation, empowerment for women and young people, and lasting solutions to conflict.

CARLA MUCAVI, Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office to the United Nations, associating herself with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), stressed that international migration, as well as rural, seasonal and circular migration significantly influenced the distribution of the global population and reshaped livelihoods. Integrated territorial planning and development, as well as a better understanding of the decisions behind migration, could help shape national policies and strategies aimed at achieving inclusive rural growth. Those should be part of larger efforts aimed at broad economic growth, among other objectives. There must be greater investment not only in urban areas, but also in rural economies, which made better use of the urban rural nexus and promoted sustainable cities.

MARINE DAVTYAN, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said all people on the move should be able to exercise their right to health, including efforts to reduce the vulnerability of migrants to HIV and provide access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. All people, including those living with HIV, should have equal access to freedom of movement. An estimated 35 countries and territories imposed restrictions on the entry, stay or residence of people living with HIV, which was wrong and unnecessary. An estimated one quarter of all people living with HIV resided in about 200 cities. Indeed, cities could make a critical contribution to tackling AIDS, she said, citing the 250 cities and municipalities around the world which had committed to accelerating their AIDS response.

SAI JYOTHIRMAI RACHERLA, Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, said her region grappled with issues pertaining to sustainable cities, rural to urban migration, human mobility and international migration. Stressing that States must urgently implement policies and programmes, she said gender and health issues permeated all aspects of migration, with female migrant workers subject to discriminatory regulations by both origin and destination countries. Women migrant workers lacked access to labour and social protections, health care, and social safety nets. Thus, she urged Member States to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, as well as facilitate cooperation between origin and destination countries, and commit to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.

ANNA DEVEREUX, Right Here Right Now Partnership of Rutgers University, called on Governments to prevent the need for abortion by implementing quality comprehensive sexual education. She also advocated for the provision of affordable modern contraceptives and youth friendly health services, as well as access to legal abortion services for all women and girls, upon demand, regardless of age or migration status.

ALEX VAZQUEZ, International Federation for Family Development, said urban design should consider all family situations and social groups, as well as environmentally sustainable planning and social services for all. Accessible and affordable child care facilities should be close to the residence or workplace of parents, and the value of unpaid work and care recognized.

MARTHA GEARY NICHOL, New Zealand Family Planning Association, said much of the world faced the challenges of high growth rates, increasing urbanization and forced migration due to natural disasters and climate change. Further, Governments and non governmental organizations must be equipped to respond to the sexual and reproductive health needs of all migrants, including temporary migrants following natural disasters, she stressed, welcoming the greater inclusion of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration discourse.

Ms. SAYE, International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants, said disaster vulnerability was the plight of impoverished urban poor. City slums were home to nearly 1 billion people, while violence was spreading due to civil war and urban terrorism. At the same time, there had been an increase in crimes against women by migrants. She also expressed concern about the breakdown of childhood immunization programmes, drug shortages and lack of health records, among other such challenges. Concerning human mobility, she highlighted that 6.9 million people had been internally displaced due to conflict.

STEFANO GENNARINI, C-Fam Inc., emphasizing that families were greatly affected by urbanization and migration, called attention to urban living conditions, as well as the risks and precariousness involved in migration that too often contributed to families being torn apart. Human mobility through migration and urbanization also led to increased vulnerability to poverty and human trafficking. In addition, the family did not receive the international attention it deserved, he said, noting his perception that the family and human rights were only discussed in the context of family planning.

Ms. BRUNEEL, International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, stressing that health was an essential human right, said migrants and refugees often found themselves in vulnerable situations that could acutely exacerbate health conditions. They faced increased risk to disease, maternal and newborn health hazards, occupational health risks, injury and mental health issues. She urged Member States to take proactive measures to meet the health needs of those populations, emphasizing that women and girls’ full participation and equal rights must be ensured at every level.

ALEXANDRA ROSE, World Youth Alliance, expressed concern for people whose migration was involuntary, and over the violence involved in their plight. The protection of minor migrants was important as they were vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking, abuse and radicalization, especially when unaccompanied. The group encouraged legislation to help migrant families to stay together.

WERONIKA JANCZUK, Fertility Education and Medical Management Foundation, said women must have access to health education to make informed choices. The Foundation’s medical management programme featured diagnostic protocols and treatments to address the root cause of hormonal imbalances to heal women, providing them with information and understanding.

SAJEDA AMIN, International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, said that the organization facilitated scientific work on population changes and sustainable development, while also supporting the transfer of innovations and best practices in demographic research across the globe. Its new initiatives aimed at strengthening the evidence base on why and how family planning mattered in rapidly developing urban centres in Africa and Asia. The group relied heavily on the data and publications generated by the Population Division, and he commended the United Nations for the high quality and timeliness of its work.

Source: United Nations