African Regional Confab on ICPD agenda underway in Addis Ababa
An African Regional Conference to review evidence of progress, challenges, gaps and emerging issues in relation to the achievement of the goals set out in the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) agenda is underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The aim of the conference is to make recommendations that will accelerate progress towards the goals set out in the 1994 Programme of Action (PoA), which was the outcome of the ICPD, held in Cairo, Egypt, and which governments pledged to implement.
The results of a regional survey documenting progress and achievements in the implementation of the ICPD PoA in Africa form the basis for the Conference deliberations.
Following a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on the follow-up to the ‘ICPD Beyond 2014′, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) undertook an operational review of the implementation of the Programme of Action (PoA) on the African Continent.
The process included a review of country reports and country implementation profiles; relevant policy decisions; strategies and programmes that have been formulated to implement actions in line with the various themes of the PoA; the institutional frameworks and governance structures that have been put in place; and the resources that have been mobilised to implement the policies, programmes and strategies.
The review thereby documented the achievements, challenges and constraints, as well as the gaps identified and also provided the opportunity to identify strategic priorities for population and development on the African continent.
It is intended, therefore, that the outcome of the review will guide the ongoing dialogue to define the ICPD agenda post 2014, and to contribute to the development agenda post 2015 on the continent.
Representatives of governments from across the continent are attending the regional conference, which has the theme, ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend: The future we want for Africa.’
They include ministers of states, government experts, representatives of research and training institutions, the Pan-African Parliament, Regional Economic Communities, United Nations agencies, international organisations, civil society organisations, the media and the youth.
The conference will also consider the draft report of the operational review of the ICPD Plan of Action in Africa, recommendations of the operational review, and the African common position on ICPD beyond 2014.
The final regional report of the operational review for Africa, as well as an African common position on ICPD beyond 2014 will be included in a Global Report.
In a statement, delivered on his behalf at the Opening Session of the Experts Segment of the conference, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA said the ICPD PoA was a ground-breaking consensus document that put forward concrete actions and objectives through which governments and countries could achieve sustained economic growth and sustainable development, with human rights, equality, equity and dignity as the standard of human well-being.
‘This region has come a long way since that historic event in 1994 when 179 countries agreed on the conditions for ensuring opportunity through a clear understanding of the linkages between sexual and reproductive health, quality human capital, development and economic growth.’ he said.
Dr. Osotimehin said the conference presents a unique opportunity to reflect on the situation in the region; to build on the successes and the lessons learned and to position the continent to achieve its transformation agenda; to be ambitious, shape the review and the post 2015 agenda.
He indicated that despite the gains and tremendous progress since 1994, the African region faces serious challenges.
‘Africa continues to lag behind other regions and there remain significant inequalities in access to quality services, information and education across and within countries in Africa. Inequality, social exclusion, gender inequity, poor governance and lack of participation, insufficient research and data, as well as corruption, continue to hold back the region’s great potential and impede economic growth and sustainable development,’ he said.
There are also challenges in the area of urbanisation, migration and climate change and these must all be addressed if the region is to achieve sustainable development, Osotimehin added.
He further indicated that Africa’s current demographic transition is going to be crucial for Africa’s future. With an unprecedented youth bulge, how Africa deals with the transition could make or break the continent.
According to him, almost 20 years since the nations of the world came together in Cairo to endorse the ICPD goals and objectives as a means towards achieving a better, more sustainable and equitable world, tremendous gains have been made in all aspects of health, and economic, political and social development.
But we cannot be satisfied until we end the suffering of so many in this region; we cannot be satisfied until the abject poverty and hopelessness experienced by many in the region ends; and we definitely cannot be satisfied until we have created conditions for a thriving Africa worthy of its people and their expectations, he added.
The Deputy Executive Secretary of the UNECA, Abdalla Hamdok also noted that since 1994 when the Continent hosted the ICPD Conference, Africa has been progressing steadily in the areas of economic and social development.
‘Some of the fastest growing economies in the world are African. In 2012, while global growth declined by 2.7per cent, due to the economic crisis, Africa bucked the trend and grew at five per cent. Notably, all our sub-regions grew faster than the global average, with the highest rate being 6.3 per cent and the lowest one 3.5per cent,’ he said.
While the continent has made significant strides in addressing population issues, persistent challenges including increasing inequalities amongst population groups remain, and these must be tackled in a structural manner.
Wide disparities, he added, still exist in access to sexual and reproductive health services, especially for young people. Closing the gender gap remains a major challenge, particularly in the areas of women’s economic empowerment and participation in politics and decision-making.
The ICPD Beyond 2014 review process provides a unique opportunity to forge a new regional position to address the persistent and emerging challenges of population and development.
‘The conclusions from our deliberations, here, must give a clear signal of Africa’s unique experiences and provide a strong input for the UN General Assembly Special Session on the International Conference on Population and Development beyond 2014 as well as the post 2015 development agenda.
‘The people of this great continent are looking up to us to give them a powerful voice at the global stage. We therefore hope the deliberations of this Experts meeting will come up with concrete resolutions for the consideration of our Ministers as they develop an African Common Position on ICPD beyond 2014.’
Speakers at the Youth forum preceding the African Regional Conference on Population and Development appealed to the world to invest more resources in young people and ensure their human rights in order to promote socio-economic development and growth.
According to the 150 youth representatives across Africa who attended the summit, the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 resolved to give attention to the needs and potentials young people, especially girls before the next conference next year, but many of the promises to young people remain unfulfilled.
‘Millions of girls and women worldwide still are without adequate sexual and reproductive health services and universal access to comprehensive sexuality education for young people is yet to be delivered.’ Also, equal access for the youth to health, education and economic opportunities doubles the potential for development and helps societies to break the cycle of poverty which is still prevalent in Africa, they said.
Written by Rosemary Ardayfio, ADDIS ABABA
Leave a comment. 0 comment so far.