Assessing progress for populations worldwide
When the Commission on Population and Development gathers on 7-11 April, it will be only a few months away from the 20-year anniversary of the largest intergovernmental conference on population and development ever held – the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994. Ahead of this event, John Wilmoth, Director of UN DESA’s Population Division, spoke with DESA News about some of the demographic trends during the past 20 years and some of the issues currently at stake.
“One of the most important areas of progress goes to the heart of what the Cairo conference was all about,” said Mr. Wilmoth, highlighting how this conference represented a shift in thinking. “Across the board, the emphasis went toward thinking about individuals and their rights and needs, and addressing those issues first and foremost,” he explained. He also pointed to positive changes that can be seen over the past 20 years including a substantial reduction of fertility around the world, increases in life expectancy as well as greater recognition of the contribution of international migration to development.
The conference in Cairo helped galvanize action that brought major improvements in the well-being of people around the world. When representatives and experts from a large number of UN Member States and NGOs gather in New York for the 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development, they will assess the status of implementation of the Programme of Action, adopted by 179 governments in 1994.
“There is still an unfinished agenda of the Cairo conference,” Mr. Wilmoth said, pointing to the need to continue to improve life expectancy, reduce fertility, enhance access to education, and achieve gender equality. “It means continuing to work on fulfilling the rights and needs of individuals across the life course,” Mr. Wilmoth added.