Population and Development Commission Addresses Urbanization, Migration
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Delegates at the Commission on Population and Development shared experiences and progress on the Session’s theme, ‘sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration’.

However, for the third consecutive year, the Commission did not reach consensus on its outcome document.

The Commission approved the theme, ‘Population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development,’ for its 53rd session in 2020.

13 April 2018: The 51st session of the Commission on Population and Development considered ways to protect people on the move, address urban challenges and support the creation of sustainable cities. The Commission failed to reach consensus on an outcome document on its session theme, ‘sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration,’ but delegates reiterated their commitment to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the International Conference on Population and Development.

The 51st session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD 51) convened at UN Headquarters in New York, US, from 9-13 April 2018. The UN created the Commission to advise the UN and its Member States on population issues and trends.

The Commission’s failure to reach consensus on the proposed outcome document represents the third consecutive year the Commission has not issued an outcome document. Uganda for the African Group, as well as the US, regretted the inclusion of a sovereignty clause in the draft. The African Group also expressed concern about a paragraph that it said undermined common understanding on the global compact for migration, which is currently being negotiated. The US further did not support references to sexual and reproductive health in the proposed text. Tunisia, on behalf of a cross-regional group of countries, said sexual and reproductive health and rights are linked to poverty reduction, gender equality, economic empowerment and sustainable development, and expressed regret that the Commission had not reached consensus. SDG target 3.7 aims to, “by 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.”

“Overly rapid urbanization and poorly managed migration” are challenges to sustainable development, said Elliott Harris, DESA.

In opening statements, speakers underscored the relationship among migration, urbanization and sustainable development, with several observing that migrants can contribute to sustainable economies and societies. Elliott Harris, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), described “overly rapid urbanization and poorly managed migration” as challenges to sustainable development, and urged local and national governments to work together to implement policies that manage the potentially negative aspects of urbanization and migration and promote their development benefits.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed observed that international migration is increasingly complex, with people moving at high rates within national borders and “more countries serving simultaneously as countries of origin, transit and destination.” She highlighted cities that have successfully managed migration, such as São Paulo, Brazil, which has improved policy coordination on migration and launched an awareness-raising campaign to end xenophobia, and London, UK, which introduced a scheme to encourage community groups to sponsor a refugee family.

Countries shared their experiences on population shifts and urbanization throughout the session, with many highlighting ways in which urban planning can support SDG achievement. Costa Rica observed that urbanization poses challenges for society and the environment, and called for reducing energy and natural resource use, particularly in urban areas. Morocco said its urban planning policy works to improve access to health, education, drinking water and sanitation, as part of its efforts to achieve the SDGs. Tunisia described the positive contributions of migrants to inclusive growth and sustainable development. Turkey said addressing migration patterns will be critical in achieving the 2030 Agenda.

Participants further described efforts to sustainably develop urban areas. Morocco highlighted the ‘Alliance on Migration and Development’ programme, which aims to integrate new migrants into society and ensure protection of their rights. Belarus is implementing policies to stimulate the development of small and medium-sized towns and cities to revitalize rural areas and mitigate the overpopulation of cities. Mongolia is pursuing green province and sustainable city initiatives. Swaziland established a regional development fund to minimize the dichotomy between rural and urban areas and eradicate poverty.

Several speakers reflected on demographic dimensions and health. Côte d’Ivoire and Uruguay said increased urban growth has underscored the importance of controlling fertility and improving access to contraception, health care, education and training. Austria for the EU said ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health care for rapidly growing urban populations is essential. Uganda described its investments in access to family planning and improving child survival and women’s education.

On international migration, participants discussed ways to address key drivers of migration, harness the potential of youth and improve the management of migration flows. Several emphasized the importance of international cooperation to strengthen existing approaches and policies and create new ones, including Liberia and the Russian Federation. Tunisia supported enhanced cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination.

Several representatives highlighted the importance of data in understanding population shifts. The Dominican Republic measures the contributions of Haitian migrants to gross domestic product (GDP). The Government of Zambia has collaborated with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to produce district-level development indicators, which have mobilized investments in education and health for children.

The Commission also considered the role of accurate, disaggregated and updated population data in achieving the SDGs. Cheryl Sawyer, UN Population Division, said the Division’s data is indirectly used for monitoring many SDGs. Cuba recognized such global estimates and projections as an “important point of reference,” but said national statistical divisions are responsible for assessing the SDGs at the national and sub-national level. Several countries shared improvements in censuses and household surveys, including Myanmar and Samoa.

The Commission addressed several reports by the UN Secretary-General on ‘Programme implementation and progress of work in the field of population in 2017,’ including findings from the international migrant stock data set. The Commission also addressed, inter alia: gateway cities; housing and urban infrastructure; migrant workers and remittances.

The Commission approved the theme, ‘Population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development,’ for its 53rd session in 2020. The Commission also decided that future reports on financial resources for assisting in implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) will be based on official development assistance and recorded in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) creditor reporting system. [UN Press Release] [Meeting Summary, day 1] [Meeting Summary, day 2] [Meeting Summary, day 3] [Meeting Summary, day 4] [Meeting Summary, day 5] [World Demographic Trends (E/CN.9/2018/5)] [Programme implementation and progress of work in the field of population in 2017 (E/CN.9/2018/6)] [CPD 51 Website]


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