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February 15, 2020
MDUDUZI DUNCAN DLAMINI, Minister for the Tinkhundla Administration and Development of Swaziland, said that since 30 per cent of his country’s population lived in urban and peri‑urban areas, the Government was actively pursuing affordable housing strategies and programmes for urban dwellers to mitigate the spread of slums. It was also committed to partnering to create sustainable cities. A regional development fund was established to eradicate poverty and minimize the dichotomy between rural and urban centres. Other progress included a recently completed digital population and housing census, which would provide insight on population location, internal and international migration and national policy development, and a newly passed act to assist asylum seekers and refugees.
OMAR A. A. ANNAKOU (Libya), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and the African Group, underlined a need to commit to the implementation of decisions made at the 1994 Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, bearing in mind the principle of national sovereignty. As many countries were affected by rural to urban human mobility and the cross‑border movement of migrants, sustainable cities should be created to absorb the influx of people. Calling attention to Libya’s turbulent transitional stage, he said effects had included mass displacement and the inability to provide basic services. Given the importance of global migration and its negative implications on fragile countries, discussions must be held at the international level through the adoption of a global compact on safe, orderly and regulated migration, he said, citing the impact on Libya of the large number of international migrants, particularly those seeking to exploit the fragile situation on the ground.
JOSÉ LUIS FIALHO ROCHA (Cabo Verde) said the urban population in his country, currently at 65 per cent, was growing due to the movement of people from rural to urban areas. As such, the Government had begun to implement policies and strategies aimed at addressing various urban development challenges and also sought to create conditions whereby rural life was more attractive to populations in order to reduce demographic pressures and inequalities. Cabo Verde recognized international migration as a global and multidimensional phenomenon of economic and social importance.
MELODI TAMARZIANS, Youth Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of the Netherlands, called on Governments to meaningfully engage young people within their delegations to ensure the Commission was a more inclusive space. She urged every country to take more responsibility for the health and well‑being of its population by investing more in sexual and reproductive health and rights. As they were directly impacted by Government policies, young people must be involved in that process, particularly as they had the ability to make change for themselves and their communities. Emphasizing that sexual and reproductive health and rights were inalienable human rights, she called on Governments to integrate those issues into policies and interventions.
ROUA SHURBAJI (Syria), associating herself with the Group of 77, said there was a lack of collective will to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Syria’s main development approach was based on ensuring the dignified and safe return of all Syrian refugees or displaced persons, within and outside the country. In that context, the Government was seeking to provide basic services and infrastructure as well as appropriate economic and social development conditions. The Government was doing its utmost to implement a national strategy and vision for the future based on the needs of displaced persons, with an emphasis on avoiding any significant demographic changes in urban areas and the preservation of the historic social fabric of Syria. The Government had also adopted methods to link the population’s economic activity, resource distribution and overall development vision.
LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said his country’s current urban population was expected to rise to 45.5 per cent by 2030 from the current 39.5 per cent, posing challenges for sustainable development. Efforts were being implemented to increase the provision of basic social services in rural areas and reduce the rate of the rural‑urban flows. As a country of origin, transit and destination, including for refugees and asylum seekers coming from neighbouring countries, Zambia was developing infrastructure, with assistance from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
IGOR KHARITONOV, Head of Division, Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, said population, mobility and international migration had significant impacts on sustainable development, adding that assistance must be provided to States suffering from natural disasters or armed conflict. Facing complex migration challenges required international harmony, he said, calling attention to related processes and their significant impact on socioeconomic development. Migration growth had compensated for more than half of the natural population loss of the Russian Federation, he said, highlighting his country’s migration policy, which aimed at ensuring national security, stabilization, population growth and meeting labour, innovation and economic competitiveness needs. Having up‑to‑date demographic data was important for the development of policies and programmes for the further implementation of the Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda.
NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, highlighted some of migration’s negative effects, including the loss of human capital, separation of families and other social and economic costs in the countries of origin. Policies must address those and other pressing concerns while also reducing transfer costs of remittances and increasing the financial literacy of migrants and their families. Nepal was experiencing rapid urbanization driven by those in search of better livelihoods and economic opportunities. As a result, the Government had pursued planned and strategic investments in sustainable cities with a view towards harnessing the potential of rural‑urban linkages, particularly with regard to poverty eradication.
NYI NYI, Deputy Director General, Population Department of Myanmar, aligning himself with the Group of 77, said his country attached great importance to the role that could be played by youth, which comprised more than 35 per cent of the population. Addressing the housing gap was a challenge in the context of high mobility and rapid urbanization, he said, noting that infrastructure development projects were being implemented as part of a master plan to address Yangon’s population growth, currently at 5.2 million. Protecting migrants was another national priority, he said, adding that 4.25 million Myanmar nationals were living abroad, with over 70 per cent in Thailand. Myanmar had successfully conducted a nationwide population and housing census in 2014, supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other partners, and migration data would enhance the formulation of related policies.
MALILIGA PESETA (Samoa) said population was a crucial part of her country’s national development framework. The Samoa Population Action Plan highlighted key areas such as relocation and migration from rural to urban areas, emigration, immigration, changing age structures, education and the impact of human settlement on the environment. A 2016 census report provided user‑friendly statistical information for planning and programme intervention. As a country vulnerable to climate change consequences and the increasing frequency and intensity of disasters in the region, Samoa’s infrastructure development progress had been destroyed by recent tropical cyclones and flooding, which had resulted in relocating communities to higher grounds.
LEWIS GARSEEDAH BROWN II (Liberia) said every effort must be undertaken to ensure that cities and communities were inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable in light of population shifts. Liberians were once on the move due to civil upheaval, but that was no longer the case, he said, adding that the country was grateful and could relate to the factors that forcefully displaced populations. To enhance the key actions, targets and goals of the Programme of Action, adequate resources were required at domestic and international levels. Resource mobilization was also needed to address other social and economic matters, such as strengthening health and education sectors, improving the empowerment of women, addressing environmental concerns and eradicating poverty. Cooperation and partnerships must help to strengthen existing policies and create new approaches to address mobility and migration.
RAMZI LOUATI (Tunisia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said more than 1 million Tunisians lived abroad, 83 per cent in Europe, underlining the positive contributions migrants made towards inclusive growth and sustainable development. Tunisia called for the full respect and protection for all human rights of refugees and migrants and advocated for enhanced cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination. Aware of the link between sustainable development and gender equality, Tunisia had embarked on the path of comprehensive sexual education. Family planning was an imperative to ensure the well‑being of women, children, young people and society as a whole. The Government had spared no effort in investing in education and health services, with results showing a near parity enrolment rate for six‑year‑old girls and boys, and women making up 62.6 per cent of higher education students. Highlighting other measures, he said Tunisia had adopted in 2017 a comprehensive law on combating violence against women.
ROSAJILDA VELEZ, Director, Studies Unit of Economic Policies, Planning and Development of the Dominican Republic, associating herself with the Group of 77, said her country had the largest number of immigrants in the region and the third highest number of nationals in the diaspora, the latter comprising 1.3 million people, or 13 per cent of the population. Currently, immigrants made up 5.6 per cent of population. A total of 3.6 people out of every 1,000 in the country were immigrants, although that was expected to decline to 1.8 per cent by 2050, and of the 400,000 immigrants, 80 per cent were Haitian nationals. The rural population of the Dominican Republic was decreasing, with 86 per cent of the population expected to be concentrated in urban areas by 2030, which would have an impact on the provision of social services. Economic growth had generated an increase in jobs, which was being met by immigrant labour, in the agricultural, construction and service sectors.
RUBÉN ESCALANTE-HASBÚN (El Salvador) underscored the importance of introducing and strengthening the language in the Commission’s draft resolution using concepts that were in line with the session’s theme, including slum upgrades, dignified returns and links among cities, climate change and pollution. The Programme of Action was a crucial and valid strategic framework that addressed critical areas, he said, expressing concern about the regression in the language related to commitments to the instrument and emphasizing a need to move forward rather than backward in that regard.
LAURIE SHESTACK PHIPPS (United States) said her country sought to address the root causes of dangerous irregular migration in origin countries through their overseas development programmes that provided increased educational and income‑generating opportunities. The United States was a leader in providing life‑saving humanitarian assistance to those fleeing persecution and torture, she said, encouraging Governments to increase their assistance to refugees and vulnerable migrants. The United States had played a prominent role in developing international recommendations on migration data and was committed to helping countries to develop their capacity to collect, analyse and disseminate data. The Government remained a steadfast leader within the humanitarian community on the protection of women and girls, particularly through addressing gender‑based violence through programming tailored to their needs. A bilateral maternal and child health programme had reached 25 countries, saving the lives of 4.6 million children and 200,000 women since 2008.
MADHUKA SANJAYA WICKRAMARACHCHI WICKRAMARACHCHIGE (Sri Lanka) said factors influencing migration were mainly economic and 1.9 million Sri Lankans were migrant workers. Urbanization had been relatively slow in Sri Lanka, with a shift in the internal migration pattern from urban to suburban. As foreign workers could be an economic and social asset for both countries of origin and destination, he said Sri Lanka prioritized international migrants’ health. To address those and related issues, an interministerial and inter‑agency coordination framework provided, among other things, health screening of all incoming migrants. Bearing in mind the importance of sustainable cities, Sri Lanka had launched the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project, an urban planning, zoning and development initiative aimed at creating a planned megapolis by 2030, with the particular goal of serving the rapidly growing number of older people in rural areas.
The representative of Cambodia said that national demographics had shown solid progress over the past two decades, including deep shifts in age structure, families and fertility. While inter‑rural population movement had been prevalent in the past, a recent trend had seen a shift toward rural‑urban flows and a marked increase in cross‑border migration. The Government had emphasized the issues of migration and urbanization management in its second national population policy, and put forth a number of initiatives within the national social protection policy framework aimed at protecting vulnerable populations living in urban areas and ensuring their access to basic services. Population flows had social and human rights implications, including the need for the humane treatment of migrants, refugees and displaced persons. Such issues could not be resolved by countries acting in isolation, he said, calling for greater coordination and joint initiatives.
ABDOULIE BAH (Gambia) said a high rate of internal and international migration had affected his country’s structure and pattern of settlements, as those arriving had tended to settle in urban agglomerations where employment opportunities and social amenities were more available. However, dense population concentration in cities had resulted in rising unemployment and urban poverty. Meanwhile, the agricultural sector’s low productivity had resulted in high unemployment of young people, forcing them to migrate, with many going to Europe. The Government continued to create opportunities for Gambian youth, but such initiatives required massive investments from partners and the donor community.
The representative of Bolivia said migratory movements and the large number of people in urban areas had translated into the greater use of public services in cities and changes in the nation’s demographic profile and socioeconomic model. Migrants were not a homogenous block, nor did they migrate for the same reason, as reflected in recent trends. As such, the Government was establishing policies examining the origins and needs of all groups. Migration issues should be considered within planning models with differentiated criteria for all regions. Current challenges also included the rising concentration of people in a few cities, which strained public services, and the depopulation of remote areas.
ABDUL SHUKUR ABDULLAH, Director General, National Population and Family Development Board of Malaysia, said that since the 1970s, his country had witnessed a threefold increase in its urbanization level. Internal migration in Malaysia was not only categorized by rural‑urban flows, but also by populations seeking better livelihoods. As a result, Malaysia had established and implemented a national urbanization policy and adopted a new urban agenda aimed at creating cities that were inclusive, safe and equitable. Further, the Government had pursued measures to ensure that the rights and welfare of migrant workers were protected.