Fifty-seventh Session,
9th Meeting (AM)

Speakers Highlight Political Declaration Renewing Determination to Advance Landmark 1994 Action Programme on Population and Development as Commission Ends Session

The Commission on Population and Development concluded its 2024 annual session today, highlighting its main outcome — the adoption on 29 April of a political declaration to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the landmark Programme of Action on Population and Development.

Through the “Declaration on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development” (document E/CN.9/2024/L.4), ministers and Government representatives gathered at the Commission’s fifty-seventh session renewed their determination to advance the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Programme of Action.

The Declaration recognized that population dynamics, changing population age structures, urbanization and international migration will continue to shape the world for present and future generations.  Further, it called on the UN system, international and regional organizations and all sectors of civil society to intensify their contributions to the implementation of the Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“I am proud to say that we were determined to not to fail, and we did not fail,” said Commission Chair Noemí Espinoza Madrid (Honduras), declaring:  “This session was a success”.  Recalling that in 1994, 179 Member States gathering at the historic international conference in Cairo adopted an ambitious and visionary Programme of Action, she said the Commission celebrated the 30-year mark by adopting an important declaration.

“It has been clear that we need to revitalize multilateralism and show a spirit of international solidarity to achieve the goals and targets of development,” she said, underscoring the need to consider “the different realities facing regions and demographic changes” and work in an “intergenerational partnership”.

“As Member States, our decisions impact the lives of people,” she said, adding:  “Let’s make sure that we do the right thing so that the impact is positive.  Only in this way, will we be up to the task that asked of us, which is no more, no less than guaranteeing equality, well-being and happiness become a reality within reach for all our peoples.”

Diene Keita, Deputy Executive Director for Programme of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), pointed out that “the promise of Cairo was to reconcile the imperative of national development with cultural values and human rights”.  Implementing this means that countries have taken ownership of population and development on their own terms, tackling challenges like poverty and inequality and working towards environmental sustainability and inclusive growth.

With a view to the Summit of the Future in September, she emphasized that the international community can ensure that ambitious targets set are not merely aspirational, but achievable.  “Our future — the future of 8 billion people on this planet — depends on it,” she stressed.

Navid Hanif, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that the 2024 anniversary session aimed to assess what has been achieved in delivering on the promises of the Cairo conference held 30 years ago; identify what still needs to be done to fully achieve the goals of the Programme of Action; and highlight critical linkages between its implementation and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

By adopting a political declaration, Member States have reaffirmed their sustained commitment to the Programme of Action, he observed, noting “the continuing relevance, vitality and urgency” of the global agenda for population and development.  Born in Cairo, the agenda “is making an important contribution today towards achieving the SDGs and will remain relevant until 2030 and beyond.”

The Commission also heard the views of Member States on the Declaration.  While most speakers welcomed its consensus adoption, some expressed regret that they could not achieve more. 

The representative of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the bloc engaged constructively in the negotiations to reach a consensus outcome. However, the “still unfinished agenda” includes human rights, eliminating all forms of discrimination, sexual- and gender-based violence, youth, adolescents, maternal health, HIV services, child and forced marriage, and marginalized communities, he said, stressing the need for universal access to quality and affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, education, including comprehensive sexuality education, and health-care services.

On that, Chile’s delegate expressed regret that the Declaration did not have a “more ambitious compromise” on family planning, bodily autonomy and access to sexual and reproductive health rights.  The speaker for the United Republic of Tanzania pointed out that the Declaration “misses important aspects” of the Programme of Action, such as the recognition of the right to development, family, poverty alleviation, hunger, and diseases — a view echoed by some other delegations.  Due to “dilution, utter disregard and aversion of all-important core principles, such as the sovereignty, the right to development, and the central role of the family,” Djibouti can offer only “cautious support” to the declaration, its representative said. 

Iran’s delegate voiced deep concern about the adverse impacts of decreasing fertility rates in numerous countries, which poses notable social, economic and demographic challenges.  Regrettably, this crucial matter has not been addressed in the document, he said.  The Permanent Observer for the Holy See said that “most regrettable of all is the lack of any reference in the political declaration to poverty eradication.”

The representative of Egypt said that his delegation also called for the inclusion of several elements highlighted by his counterparts.  “Nonetheless, we did join the consensus as we are convinced of the importance of ensuring unity between Member States at this pivotal time,” he said. 

South Africa’s representative said that the Declaration recognized the need for adequate and sufficient mobilization of resources at the national and international levels, as well as predictable, sustainable and sufficient development finance to developing countries from all sources. It also includes a call to enhance North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation.  “By including these aspects, Member States here today have emphasised our commitment to ensuring that no one is left behind on our journey towards a more peaceful, equitable, just, and sustainable future for all,” he said.

In other business, the Commission adopted the report of its fifty-seventh session (document E/CN.9/2024/L.5) and the provisional agenda of the fifth-eighth session (document E/CN.9/2024/L.2).  By adopting draft decision (document E/CN.9/2024/L.3), the Commission decided that the special theme for its fifty-ninth session, to be held in 2026, will be “Population, technology and research in the context of sustainable development”.

The Commission then opened the fifty-eighth session, electing Catharina Lasseur (Netherlands) as Chair, Norma Abi Karam (Lebanon) and Soledad Sandler (Argentina) as Vice-Chairs.  The nomination of the remaining Vice-Chairs was deferred to a later date.

For information media. Not an official record.