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New Director of UN’s DESA highlights importance of population dynamics

January 28, 2013 • Daily Email Recap

The following interview, printed January 14th on the website of the United Nations. Answering questions is John R. Wilmoth, who became Director of the U.N.’s Department of Economic and Social Affair’s Population Division on January 2nd, 2013.

New Director of UN’s DESA highlights importance of population dynamics
See: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/population-division-director.html

“It is exciting to do this kind of work at the UN, because of the central importance of population dynamics in all matters of social and economic development,” said John R. Wilmoth, who took office as Director of DESA’s Population Division on 2 January. In an interview, Mr. Wilmoth describes major population trends, his work on maternal mortality estimates and some surprising demographic developments.

With a distinguished academic background, Mr. Wilmoth has served as Professor at the University of California at Berkeley and has previously also worked for the Population Division as Chief of its Mortality Section from 2005 to 2007. He is the author or co-author of more than 50 scientific papers on various aspects of population dynamics and he was also the lead consultant to the World Health Organization for the development of new maternal mortality estimates, used for the monitoring of MDG 5.

How does it feel to be back at DESA and the Population Division?

“I am very glad to be back in DESA and the Population Division. Here I have many close friends and colleagues, whom I have known for many years. The staff of the Population Division is very talented, and I look forward to working with them (again). It is exciting to do this kind of work at the UN, because of the central importance of population dynamics in all matters of social and economic development.”

When looking at population trends across the globe, which major challenges and opportunities do you see?

“That is a very good question, because population trends do create challenges, but they also present opportunities. I think most people would agree that the three major trends are: population growth, population ageing, and migration (both within and between countries). Each of these presents important challenges to Member States and to the UN system, but we should not forget about the opportunities.

Take migration, for example: it can be a disruptive process for everyone involved (not only for the migrants themselves, but also for their communities of origin and destination). Yet, migration also serves many useful purposes: it reallocates labor resources from areas of surplus to areas of need, it creates numerous opportunities for the migrants themselves, and it fosters social and economic linkages between places of origin and destination. The challenge faced by policymakers is how to manage migratory flows so that the benefits can be enjoyed while minimizing negative impacts…

To read the full interview, please click here: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/population-division-director.html


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