Skip to main content

Latin American and Caribbean Countries Will Discuss New Population and Development Agenda beyond 2014

Available in EnglishEspañolPortuguês
12 August 2013|Press Release

This is a people's agenda to raise the profile of excluded sectors: children, older adults, women, indigenous people, Afro-descendent people and migrants.


Según las últimas cifras disponibles, la población de la región alcanza los 600 millones de personas.
Según las últimas cifras disponibles, la población de la región alcanza los 600 millones de personas.
Foto: Sebastião Moreira/EFE.

Watch live streaming of the Regional Conference

(12 August 2013) Although recent decades have seen an increase in well-being in Latin America and the Caribbean - with major progress made in areas such as child mortality, life expectancy, gender equality and recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and migrants - the region has many challenges remaining in terms of equality.

To tackle these challenges, representatives from over 30 of the region's countries will discuss a proposed regional agenda beyond 2014, at the First session of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will be opened at 6.00 p.m. today in Montevideo, Uruguay, in the presence of the Uruguayan President, José Mujica, ECLAC Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, and Executive Director of UNFPA, Babatunde Osotimehin.

The proposed regional agenda has two main focuses:  equality and a human rights approach. It also provides follow-up to the Programme of Action of the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994.

With these aims in mind, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which is organizing the conference in conjunction with the Government of Uruguay and with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), launched the document Proposed regional agenda on population and development for Latin America and the Caribbean beyond 2014, which identifies the priority themes that should be included in this agenda in the future.

The proposal is based on the review of the ICPD Programme of Action in the region, which showed progress has been made in fulfilling the agreements made in 1994 thanks to policies and measures implemented by national governments (albeit with major differences among them).

According to the latest figures available (from the 2010 round of censuses), the region's population stands at 600 million, and is expected to grow by 11% between 2013 and 2025 to reach 680 million (rising to 750 million by 2050).

In terms of economic and social development planning and poverty reduction, poverty fell from 48.8% in 1990 to 28.8% in 2012, according to ECLAC figures.  However, there are still 167 million poor people in the region, and 66 million living in extreme poverty.

Although inequality has maintained a slight downward trend, the region remains the most unequal in the world. By 2015, Latin America's poverty rate is expected to be 23.3%, measured using the Human Development Index. This is lower than the 37.5% estimated for medium-HDI countries, but nowhere near the 2.2% of high-HDI countries.

In terms of gender, there has been a gradual improvement in women's economic and social conditions, as well as gradual progress towards gender equality.  However, women still suffer from various disadvantages and forms of discrimination.  For instance, in 2012 only 23.2% of national parliamentarians were women, while domestic work, care work and other unpaid work also continue to fall mainly to them.

As for reproductive rights and access to sexual and reproductive health, progress has been aimed at the formal recognition of these areas in recently enacted constitutions, as well as the establishment of specific plans and programmes in several countries.  In most countries, unmet demand for family planning has fallen to between 4.7% and 12% (which is lower than the world average of 12.4%).

By 2010, teenage pregnancy (among 15 to 19 year olds) had fallen to below 13%, after rising to above 14% in 2000.  However, it remains above the figures for 1990 (when the rate was less than 12%).

Child mortality also dropped between 1990 and 2011 in the region, with most countries posting a rate of less than 20 deaths for every 1,000 live births (which is well below the world average). Maternal mortality remains a challenge in the region, with a regional rate below 210 maternal deaths in every 100,000 births.

Actions aimed at achieving ICPD objectives have also been implemented in relation to children, adolescents and young people, older adults, indigenous peoples (46 million people) and people with disabilities. For instance, there has been considerable progress in primary education coverage (which stands at 90%), although it remains a challenge to improve quality at all levels of the system, to reduce rather than intensify any inequalities.

Meanwhile, international migration has increased overall, which has brought a raft of consequences such as a higher profile for remittances, greater involvement of migrant communities, and especially a more serious concern for the need to protect the rights of all migrants - as reflected in the new guidelines, policies and agreements in areas such as social security.

These topics were summarized in the document Implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean: Review of the period 2009-2013 and lessons learned. Summary and overview.

According to the Proposed regional agenda, prepared by ECLAC in conjunction with UNFPA, we must focus on seven thematic areas if we are to tackle future population challenges and step up the mainstreaming of such issues in economic and social development policies and programmes. These areas are: the rights and needs of children, adolescents and young people; ageing, social protection and socioeconomic challenges; gender equality; gaps in universal access to sexual and reproductive health services; international migration and protection for the rights of all migrants; territorial inequality, spatial mobility and environmental vulnerability; and the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples.

According to the document, the region's specific characteristics must be considered as they influence the relationship between population and sustainable development processes.  These include the region's major territorial heterogeneity, its cultural complexity and diversity, social, gender and ethnic inequality, weak institutions, rapid progress through demographic transition phases and the relative abundance of natural resources.

Inequality must be at the heart of any attempts to tackle all issues involved, as its persistent nature affects population behaviour and demographic trends, which in turn widens gaps in the exercise of rights. This underscores the urgency of equality for growth and growth for equality. In addition, the proposal makes human rights the fundamental framework for implementing the Cairo Programme of Action beyond 2014, as well as for the post-2015 development agenda.

See also:


Watch the meeting's sessions live online through the ECLAC website.

Any queries or interview requests should be sent to the ECLAC Public Information and Web Services Section in  Santiago, Chile.

E-mail:; Telephone: (56 2) 2210 2040.

Follow us on: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.