For information only - not an official document
26 March 2013
Re-issued as received
Aging, low fertility, migration must not be seen as threats, population experts say at UNFPA meeting
VIENNA, 26 March 2013 (United Nations Population Fund) - The key population challenges faced by many European countries - aging, low fertility and migration - can be dealt with and should not be seen as a threat, experts said at a two-day meeting organized by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), which ended today.
"There is no doubt that the aging of society and increasing migration flows present many challenges, in particular for the sustainability of social protection systems and the integration capacity of societies," said Werner Haug, the Director of UNFPA's Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
But what is also clear is that these population dynamics can be managed and do not have to have negative repercussions for the prosperity and cohesion of society, he added.
"The real threat is the failure to anticipate demographic changes and respond in a timely manner with policies that respect the choices of individuals and are fully in line with human rights principles," Haug said.
Experts participating in the meeting warned about an over-concentration on fertility numbers, saying that this risks losing focus on the needs of individuals. They stressed the importance of a broader approach investing in human capital, including through education and health programmes.
The experts also highlighted the need to ensure that government policies aimed at increasing fertility rates do not infringe on the right of individuals to make choices about when and how many children they want to have.
The expert meeting was part of a series of events leading up to a high-level regional conference in Geneva on 1-2 July, which aims to reach consensus on an updated population agenda for the region, two decades after world leaders adopted a Programme of Action at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994.
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