More than 400 delegates, including one heads of state, ministers, policy makers and civil society representatives from 47 countries will review– in Bangkok this week during sixth Asian and Pacific Population Conference (APPC) – population and development challenges facing the Asia-Pacific region, including the unprecedented pace of population ageing, migration, and urbanisation and changing household and family structures.
The Conference will also tackle a range of issues critical to human rights and development, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, HIV and AIDS, gender-based violence, and the rights of young people.
In the Asia-Pacific region, too many women still die as a result of childbirth. Lack of information on sexual and reproductive health, and limited access to related services, is contributing to unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions. The gaps also expose millions to the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted disease.
The five-day Conference – organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in cooperation with UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund – will be instrumental in shaping the regional population agenda for the next decade and is expected to arrive at fresh solutions to address these population and development challenges.
It is expected to adopt a Ministerial Declaration that will also serve as the Asia-Pacific regional input to the global 20-year review of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).
The United Nations General Assembly will convene a special session next year to recommit and advance the ICPD Programme of Action – the first United Nations framework to recognise reproductive rights and gender equality as essential to sustainable development and poverty eradication.
Addressing the opening today UNFPA executive director Babatunde Osotimehin cited a regional survey on progress since the ICPD conducted by ESCAP in cooperation with UNFPA. “It shows that Asia-Pacific countries have made important gains but need to do more to reduce economic inequality, ensure access to contraception, prevent maternal deaths and HIV infections, respond to the rights and needs of young people and end violence against women and girls,” he said, adding that successfully addressing the unfinished agenda is not only the right thing to do but also smart economics.
At the close of the Conference on September 20, ministers from 46 countries are expected to recommit to redouble their efforts to advance the population and development agenda in Asia and the Pacific.