Changing Age Structures and Sustainable Development

A brief report from the 50th Session of the UN Commission on Population and Development

Panellists at CPD side event

From 3 to 7 April 2017, the Commission on Population and Development held its 50th session at the UN headquarters in New York. At a side event hosted by Japan and Germany, panellists discussed current challenges in realizing access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.

Representatives of the African Institute for Development Policy, a think tank based in Nairobi, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the Japanese and German governments engaged in a lively debate. They agreed that more and better data were needed for the planning of interventions to improve young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health, and for their evaluation. But they also highlighted the challenges posed by societies’ changing age structure and discussed actions governments could take to be able to reap the much-discussed demographic dividend.

Panellists underlined that the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994 had been a historic breakthrough, as it placed individuals’ sexual and reproductive rights for the first time at the forefront of international development policy. Although the ICPD Programme of Action has since provided governments and civil society with a blueprint for joint action, panellists felt that today new, more economically oriented arguments were needed to convince governments to move the ICPD agenda forward.

At the CPD main session, Member States’ negotiations on a resolution on “Changing Age Structures and Sustainable Development” were not successful. The positions and interests were so diverse, that – for the second time in its history - the CPD ended without a joint resolution.

At the end of the meeting, however, a coalition of 31 like-minded states, including Germany, delivered a strong cross-regional joint statement underlining the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights for sustainable development and confirming their unwavering commitment to taking the ICPD agenda forward.

Julia Schmidt, May 2017

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