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“Population Policy is Essential for Full, Sustainable Development”

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6 October 2015|Press Release

The President of Mexico and the Executive Secretary of ECLAC opened the second meeting of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Mexico City.


foto de la Secretaria Ejecutiva de la CEPAL, Alicia Bárcena, y el Presidente de México, Enrique Peña Nieto, durante la inauguración del evento.
ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, and the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, at the opening session.
Photo: Julio César/Presidency of Mexico.

Latin American and Caribbean countries have the challenge of designing effective public policies that offer a life with dignity to all citizens in accordance with the new 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, and ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, said today at the inauguration of the second meeting of the Regional Conference on Population and Development.

The Mexican President underlined that the population policy is essential for achieving fuller and more sustainable development. “Knowing the population structure is essential for designing public policies,” he said during the opening of the meeting, which was held at José Vasconcelos Library in Mexico.

Peña Nieto said that, as a result of these actions in Mexico, the average number of children per woman decreased to 2.2 at present from 6.3 in 1975, while maternal mortality has dropped from 105 to 38 deaths per 100,000 live births currently.

From now through October 9 in Mexico City, the region’s countries will assess a guide for implementing the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development, approved in 2013 at the first meeting of the Conference held in Uruguay, which constitutes the most important inter-governmental agreement signed up to now in the region in terms of population and development.

“By putting the Montevideo Consensus in place, the region will be able to continue boosting its population policies with the aim of guaranteeing each individual a full life with more opportunities. This meeting can plant the seeds that guide public policy in this matter. Easy times are not in the forecast, considering the economic slowdown, but there is a firm will,” the President stated.

“The Consensus addresses key issues for the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, approved last September 25, which constitutes civilizing progress in that it is comprehensive and prioritizes citizens’ priorities and the search for equality,” said Alicia Bárcena, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), who agreed that the economic situation of the next years is not going to be favorable in that sense.

In a region with 635 million inhabitants, Alicia Bárcena encouraged countries to take advantage of the demographic bonus, considering that 164 million children and 162 million youth live in them; to also address the 70 million senior citizens and the 45 million indigenous people, and to confront urbanization challenges, since 80% of the population live in cities.

Bárcena also called for steps to put an end to the reproduction of inequality and poverty, which still affects 71 million people in Latin America. “The only acceptable number in terms of extreme poverty is zero,” she emphasized. In terms of gender inequality, ECLAC’s most senior representative advocated for achieving women’s autonomy in the physical, economic and decision-making spheres, and for breaking the statistical silence on this matter.

The Executive Secretary also underlined the alliance with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). “Its valuable and permanent support has been essential in the past and will certainly continue to be in the future, because a profound commitment connects us with the Montevideo Consensus, the El Cairo Program of Action beyond 2014 and the new 2030 agenda,” she said.

Other participants at the inaugural meeting included the Secretary-General of the National Council of Population (CONAPO) of Mexico, Patricia Chemor; and Uruguay’s Vice-Minister of Health, Cristina Lustemberg, who highlighted that the Montevideo Consensus addresses three inequalities –intergenerational, territorial and gender– and enables the integration of population to sustainable development with equality and respect for human rights.

The meeting, entitled “Population Dynamics as an Axis of Sustainable Development: the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development for Reducing Inequalities in the Framework of Human Rights,” is organized by ECLAC and the Government of Mexico, through CONAPO, with the support of UNFPA.

The working sessions will start on October 7 with the election of Mexico as the CRPD Board Chairman, which Uruguay has held since 2013. Afterwards the activities held during the period 2013-2015 and the perspectives for the two-year period 2015-2017 will be presented. Additionally, an exhibition will be held on the current socio-demographic context in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The meeting, which is attended by representatives from governments, international organizations and the civil society, will also devote eight panels to analyzing the contribution of the Operational Guide to each of the priority areas of the Montevideo Consensus: childhood and adolescence, aging, sexual and reproductive health, gender equality, migration, territorial inequality, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendents.

The Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean is an ECLAC subsidiary organ and holds its meetings every two years.