First National Population Conference 2014

Renowned demographers have suggested that there is an urgent need for developing countries like Nepal to put the cross-cutting population issues at the heart of development. Talking to this daily on the sidelines of the ongoing first National Population Conference 2014 in Kathmandu, they also said that investment in human being was a must to integrate population management into the development initiatives.

UNFPA Executive Adviser on International Conference on Population Development Beyond 2014/Post 2015, François M Farah, highlighted that it is the responsibility of the society to provide equal opportunities to the individuals.

According to Dr Farah, investing in individual human rights, capabilities resilience and dignity — across multiple sectors and throughout the life course — is the foundation of individual well-being, lowering population growth, and achieving sustainable development. “Population is everybody’s business because it is the matter of human dignity and human rights.”

Farah also pointed out the fertility and maternal mortality still high among women in disadvantaged communities, illiterate and remote areas; son preference/ sex selective abortion and early marriage and early child bearing norms as the major disparities in Nepal. “Every individual should be included in the process of inclusive development.”

ICPD Beyond 2014/Post 2015 mainly focuses on human rights, sustainability and equality. “Sustainable food and nutrition security, universal access to quality health care, quality education, inclusive social protection systems and managing demographic dynamics among others are the enablers in realising the future we want for all,” the social demographer added, highlighting the cost of inequality is all about diverting world’s wealth — and finite natural resources — to a small fraction of the population and eroding social cohesion, stalling upward mobility, increasing social tension and affecting social peace

Emeritus Professor of Demography in the Australian National University, Terence H Hull, also said population dynamics are critical to development planning in Nepali context. 

Prof Hull, who is also a chair of Asian Population Association, said that programmes and policies should be focused more on the youth and adolescents as the new Nepali generation can certainly be the catalyst of change. “There are a lot of questions being raised by local stakeholders here in Nepal like why many of the Cairo goals are still far from complete even after 20 years of ICPD? It is also time to review and re-strengthen the functional framework,” he added.

Nepali labourers are well able to build huge towers and shopping malls in other countries where they’ve been working for but why they are not doing the same here in Kathmandu, the demographer cautioned, “It is an issue of planning and investment in which population and development come together.”

Nepal needs to do more on issues like reproductive lives of women and maternal mortality rates, the professor said. 

The demographers hoped that the national population conference would be helpful for the Nepali policy makers and other stakeholders to identify the core issues of population and development as well as to set the priorities in communicating the same to the grass root level.

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