Commission on Population and Development: The ‘perfect storm’ of crises is taking shape |
Raising the alarm about the inequality of the planet COVID-19 recovery and marked cuts in public spending on youth, the elderly and other vulnerable populations, officials across the UN system stressed that this multifaceted crisis has a “clearly feminine face”.
The opening of the fifty-fifth session, on the theme “Population and sustainable development, in particular sustainable and inclusive economic growth”, marks the success of a body that has historically suffered from deadlocks and divisions.
Population, poverty, economic growth
Commission chairman Enrique A. Manalo said efforts to slow population growth, reduce poverty, achieve economic progress, protect the environment and reduce unsustainable consumption and production are mutually reinforcing.
As poverty and inequality have regained their attention in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ideas set out in the Program of Action agreed at the 1994 conference International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt, are as relevant today as ever.
According to him, although the world’s problems are not caused by population growth, they are exacerbated by it, which makes them difficult to solve.
Rebecca Greenspan, President of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), warned that a systemic debt crisis was unfolding for billions in developing countries — with inflation at multi-decade highs and civil unrest brewing in every corner of the world.
Meanwhile, progress in the implementation Agenda 2030 sustainable development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is seriously hampered by rising inequality.
She drew attention to the large generation of young people, as well as women in the world, expressing the hope that their innovative ideas will help reverse these negative trends.
“The Gathering Storm of Trouble”
Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed agreed that the pandemic has given new urgency to the issues discussed by the Commission. COVID-19 kept boys and girls out of school, increased the burden of care work, especially for women, and exacerbated gender-based violence.
At the same time, the world is still far from achieving the goal of ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030, and the number of people affected by hunger is projected to rise by tens of millions as the war in Ukraine sends food prices skyrocketing and energy. .
“In the face of this coming storm of adversity, we must come together as an international community,” she said, adding: “we urgently need to renew the social contract to restore trust and social cohesion“.
High stakes for women, girls
Meanwhile, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Chief Executive Natalia Kanem said COVID-19 has painfully highlighted the need for massive investment in family planning services and national health systems that must be universal, sustainable, data-driven and adequately staffed.
“The lack of bodily autonomy and reproductive choice continues to block women’s path to equality and full participation in economic life.she said, voicing concern about reduced funding for population-related issues, especially sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, as countries shift their priorities amid the pandemic.
“We cannot allow further rejection – the stakes for women, girls and youth, and for their society, are too high.“.
UN Photo/Manuel Elias
Work in intensive care
In her keynote speech, Jayati Ghosh, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, emphasized that the “perfect storm” of problems described by Ms. Greenspan cannot be resolved without participation.
This means reducing inequality, which always provokes backlash and opposition.
She also expressed concern about the continued decline in investment in care work, a burden that will only increase amid future demographic challenges and the effects of climate change.
“If we don’t empower women… we won’t be able to tackle the major challenges facing society” she warned.