“The African and Asian Parliamentarians’ Meeting on Population and Development: Creating Positive Impacts for ICPD+25 and SDGs”

Osamu Kusumoto (Ph.D.), Executive Director and Secretary General Asian Population and Development Association (APDA)

By Osamu Kusumoto
TOKYO, Japan, Aug 19 2019 (IPS-Partners)

The Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) organized the “African and Asian Parliamentarians’ Meeting on Population and Development for ICPD+25” on August 5 – 6, 2019, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to serve as a platform to gather the opinions and set of proposed actions of parliamentarians in the Asia and Africa regions.

Osamu Kusumoto

This November, the world will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) through a Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

The theme of the event, which is called ICPD+25, will revolve along with the progress made by countries on the Programme of Action (PoA) in the last 25 years, as well as on how to tackle the unfinished business of the ICPD. The event will also underscore the role of parliamentarians in ensuring that the gaps are addressed.

The ICPD+25 Summit in Nairobi will coincide with the 50th-anniversary celebration of the establishment of UNFPA, the international organization who was and continue to be the main force behind the ICPD.

The ICPD+25 Summit will define the efforts of countries in addressing population issues in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, which was adopted in 2015.

The ICPD Programme of Action shaped the discourse around the issues of population, reproductive health and rights, and gender equality. Before the ICPD, the population was regarded as the main variable for achieving sustainable development.

The ICPD achieved a paradigm shift in the way we perceive population issues as its nature from one of the most important variables for achieving sustainable development to becoming the subject of society’s debates. It used to be handled as a statistical target but following the principles of the ICPD, it became clear that addressing population issues should be a result of voluntary decision making or through informed choice.

As a result, two different philosophies were formed: the population is the largest variable in sustainable development, and at the same time it is not a means of sustainable development. The past 25 years of addressing population issues exist between these two directions, and the center of the population activities was a history that emphasizes the direction of RR.

In view of this, the African and Asian Parliamentarians’ Meeting is set to make a major contribution to the Nairobi Summit, which requires substantial international agreement since ICPD, through the integration of reproductive rights and the SDG approaches. It clarified several issues, made recommendations and affirmed its commitments.

Thus,

    (1) Reaffirming the philosophy of ICPD, which clarified that the population does not just number, it refers to humans that constitute the society;

    (2) Clarifying that the purpose of ICPD and SDGs are the same and that without finishing the unfinished business of the ICPD Programme of Action is not possible to achieve the SDGs;

    (3) The reproductive rights concept has been clearly defined in the ICPD as early as 25 years ago. Efforts to prevent unwanted and unplanned pregnancy – which is the main cause of population growth in developing countries – must be triggered by arguments that population-related problems hamper the achievement of sustainable development goals;

    (4) There is a need to achieve an appropriate level of fertility rate in developing and developed countries by using the same perspective to view to fulfill the Reproductive Rights. Fertility transition which introduces balanced fertility at both developing countries and developed countries what will be called the third demographic transition should be the result of social and economic policies that bring about the development in countries; and

    (5) Mere discussions and/or interpretation about reproductive rights concept is not productive. To realize its actual meaning, questions such as “How can we achieve reproductive rights?” should be the front and center of the discussions. This and questions around requisite conditions to avoid death due to starvation i.e. ensuring food security, protecting the environment, and securing water are just as important and critical discussion components and should be considered in the bigger scheme of things.

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