Plotting Population Dynamics from Rio and Beyond

Jun 19th, 2012 | By | Category: Rio+20 Earth Summit

By Suzanne York,

Michael Herrmann, UNFPA

Rio de Janeiro — My first Rio+20 side event was titled “From Rio to Cairo to Rio…and Beyond”, but for me it was actually from San Francisco to Charlotte to Rio…and even beyond to Rio Centro, site of the UN Rio+20 conference, far from downtown..  So quite a trek just to get to the event, of which I was only able to attend the last half.

The majority of the panel were experts from Africa, who focused on highlighting the links between population dynamics and sustainable development.

Eliya  Zulu is director of the African Institute for Development Policy and a member of the UK Royal Society.  He stressed the importance for decision-makers to understand the linkages between population, climate change, and environment.

Doris Mpoumou from International Planned Parenthood Federation spoke about promoting sexual and reproductive health rights, population dynamics, and gender equality here at Rio+20.

Acccording to Mpoumou, negotiatiors working on the UN zero draft text – to be finalized and agreed upon at the conference – have had a very limited focus on population dynamics, gender equality, and women’s empowerment.  Moreover, important linkages between past population agreements from the 1994 Cairo population conference and the Agenda 21 document from the original Rio Earth Summit in 1992 have been left out of the draft.

The current  version of the draft text (as of June 16) fails to acknowledge that population dynamics and reproductive health are important factors for sustainable development.  Mpoumou said that population is still a very controversial issue and that there is a lot of myth and misunderstanding around population dynamics.

Next steps, Mpoumou said, should include addressing population issues within a human rights framework.  And we must demand a sustainable development goal on population.  Also needed is for decision-makers to reaffirm the global agreements on population and women from the ICPD and UN Conference on Women in Beijing.

Lastly, strengthening conference participant’s knowledge of the nexus bewteen sexual/ reproductive health, population dynamics, and sustainable development is critical.

That is the challenge here in Rio, getting population back in the discussion.  Michael Herrmann from the United Nations Population Fund said his organization has held over 40 briefings for negotiators to sensitize them to the issue. He said  more action is needed here at the conference to include population issues on the agenda. Ultimately, said Hernan, “we want  sustainable development goals (SDG) that considers demographic change.  Let’s base SDG on population projections.”

The key is an integrated approach to issues.  Zulu brought home the message negotiators and activists should heed, that “population, consumption, and environment should not be treated as silos. It is not either or, but a combination of everything.”   And a a big part of that is family planning and .  As Mpoumou said, “reproductive health and reproductive rights have to be central.

Suzanne York is Senior Writer for Institute for Population Studies / and is reporting from Rio+20

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