UN Secretary General's remarks at Commission on Population and Development

UN Secretary-General's remarks  at the opening of the Fiftieth Session of the Commission on Population and Development



The Secretary-General



Remarks at the opening of the Fiftieth Session of the Commission on Population and Development


New York, 3 April 2017


Delivered by Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet


[As delivered]



Your Excellency, Ms. Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development,


Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,


It is my pleasure to welcome you to this 50th session of the Commission on Population and Development.  


When the Economic and Social Council created this Commission in 1946, the world’s population looked very different from what we know today.   

People today are living longer and healthier lives than ever before -- among the greatest of humanity’s achievements. 


We are also more urban than ever.


An understanding of these and other population trends is essential for our efforts to promote sustainable development for the benefit of all the world’s people.


The International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in 1994, was a turning point for this Commission and for the world.


It represented a paradigm shift that placed human rights at the centre of population and development concerns.


This 50th session of the Commission, under the theme of “Changing population age structures and sustainable development”, builds further on these understandings and agreements.


Shifts in the age distribution of populations around the world reflect the diversity of today’s demographic situation.


Progress in providing access to education and to sexual and reproductive health-care services, especially for girls and women, has improved the lives of women and children.


This, in turn, has led to falling birth rates in many countries.  


When this trend is accompanied by investments in human capital, especially for youth, a demographic dividend can result, accelerating a country’s economic growth.


That dividend can be further enhanced with increased labour force participation by women.  


Women must be empowered and afforded the same education and employment opportunities as men.  

Men also must do their part, by sharing in household work and caregiving responsibilities.


Governments can also promote measures to slow the process of population ageing.  

In countries that have seen the birth rate fall to historically unprecedented levels, parents should be supported, in particular mothers, so that they are better able to manage the demands of working and raising children at the same time.  

International migration can also help to address the challenges of population ageing, by adding workers to the population and reducing the average age.  

All governments are encouraged to facilitate migration that is safe, orderly and regular.


The work of the Cairo Programme of Action remains unfinished.

One in three girls in developing countries is married before age 18, limiting her future prospects and, in cases of adolescent pregnancy, threatening her life and health.


At least 215 million women worldwide have an unmet need for modern methods of family planning.

More than 800 women still die each day from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth, including unsafe abortion.  They urgently need our protection.


Sustained global commitment is necessary to ensure that the fragile gains of the past are not squandered.


Continued progress toward implementing the Cairo Programme of Action is critical for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Your continued leadership will be invaluable in this regard.


Thank you.