Albanian Center for Population and Development, CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice (RESURJ), Star Star Macedonia, Y-PEER, YouAct, Youth Action Nepal, Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Albanian Center for Population and Development, CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice (RESURJ), Star Star Macedonia, Y-PEER, YouAct, Youth Action Nepal, Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Vulnerability (0 hits), vulnerable (1 hits),

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Population dynamics and sustainable development are linked. The linkages between population dynamics and sustainable development has been recognized by many internationally agreed goals and principles, including the Rio Declaration 1992, Agenda 21, International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action (PoA), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Millennium Declaration. In the context of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) 2012, it is important to reaffirm role of sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality in achieving sustainable development. This means ensuring that policies and programmes that aim to achieve sustainable development should also promote the human rights of all people to the highest attainable standard of sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing, particularly for women, young people and those living in poverty.

Young people are the present and the future. There are over 1.8 billion people aged 10-24 years in the world today, the majority of whom live in developing countries. In most developing countries, this generation of young people comprises more than a third of their country?s population. In 67 developing countries, young people aged 10-24 constitute more than 40% of the adult population above 10 years of age. Young people are the most significant demographic group today and will remain so for the coming decades.

Policies should take into account the drivers of population growth. As the world reaches 7 billion, it is projected to grow to 9.3 billion by 2050. Most of the growth will take place in the developing world, as a result of the combined effects from the large number of women of childbearing age due to the high fertility of the past (so-called population momentum), declining mortality and remaining high fertility in some parts of the world (due to high desired fertility and high unmet need for contraceptives). In the least developed countries, which are marked by the highest fertility rates, the population is expected to nearly double by 2050, increasing the working age population by about 15 million per year. In the context of a green economy, there is an urgent need for countries to incorporate policies and programmes that take these dynamics into account and effectively respond to the shifting sources of population growth.

Access to sexual and reproductive health and rights addresses high fertility. Addressing high fertility where it prevails continues to be a viable strategy, provided that programme interventions are human-rights based and give people the opportunity to influence the number of children and the spacing between births that they desire. High fertility is partly due to high rates of unwanted pregnancies, especially in adolescents. Young women and couples of reproductive age are increasingly choosing to have fewer children than the previous generation, but they will be unable to fulfill these desires if they lack access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and contraceptives. Globally, an estimated 215 million women want to use family planning methods and services, but do not have access to them. Family planning services are essential for the prevention of unintended and unwanted pregnancies and enable women and couples to choose the number and spacing of pregnancies. There is a need to ensure that national development plans support age-appropriate sexuality education, including information with gender equality perspective, in and out of school as well as young people?s access to contraceptives. Special efforts are required to ensure that health systems respond to the needs of young people, and that adolescent sexual and reproductive health programmes are able to reach those who are most in need.

Gender equality and access to health will slow down population momentum. Where population growth is already due almost exclusively due to population momentum, i.e. the large number of women of childbearing age due to the high fertility of the past, putting in place approaches to increase the age at marriage, to empower girls and young women with information for acquiring accurate contraceptive methods , and enhancing adolescents? sexual and reproductive health, educational levels, and income-generating potential can have significant effects on population growth rates. Where girls are able to stay in school until secondary school and are empowered to decide on matters related to their sexuality and reproduction, there is a significant observed effect in delaying child birth and increasing spacing.

Promoting sexual and reproductive health services advances environmental sustainability. Many experts agree that slowing down population growth including through ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health including family planning would reduce pressure on scarce natural resource within communities, including fuel for cooking and warmth, drinking water, and land for subsistence farming. Universal access to sexual and reproductive health including family planning should be one the key interventions needed to achieve sustainable, low-carbon development. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that demand for family planning will increase by about 50 to 75 per cent from 2005-2020 in many developing countries. If governments and other donors fund sexual and reproductive health services and supplies, we can advance environmental sustainability while also promoting social justice, development and human rights.

HIV prevention amongst young people ensures a sustainable workforce. Governments must recognize that the response to HIV is both a human rights issue and also an economic necessity crucial to eradicating poverty. On one hand, disproportionately high levels of poverty and unemployment make young people more vulnerable to HIV infection. On the other, with close to four out of ten new HIV infections occurring amongst young people, this has serious implications for productivity today and the workforce of tomorrow, particularly in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where HIV prevalence is as high as 25% of the population.

Access to sexual and reproductive health services promotes adaptation. Young women's health and well-being, their ability to choose if or when to have children and their risk or early pregnancy is affected by their lack of access to safe and stigma free sexual and reproductive health services, contraception and comprehensive sexuality education. Such access helps build resistance among individuals and communities and should be incorporated as a part of policies to promote sustainable development and adaptation strategies for climate change.


In the context of the Green Economy, member states should:

? Recognize that sustainable development entails empowering young people, particularly the most marginalized, by investing in their education, health including sexual and reproductive health, employment and leadership.

? Reaffirm commitments to the ICPD Programme of Action, the Beijing Platform for Action and the World Programme of Action for Youth

? Prioritize their full and effective implementation of these commitments through multisectoral programmes that link social justice, access to health, gender equality and environmental sustainability.

? Take into account population dynamics in policies and expand rights-based programmes that effectively respond to the shifting sources of population growth through promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

? Commit to build the capacities of young people and women in the production and marketing of green technologies should be prioritized in the transition to a green economy.

? Promote gender equality and the empowerment of young women and support programmes as a cross-cutting issue and a priority for sustainable development including through addressing the gendered impacts of climate change as a part of strategies to promote adaptation.

? Support gender-sensitive, age-appropriate, life-skills-based comprehensive sexuality education for young people both in and out of school based on international standards as a way to empower young people, promote gender equality, human rights, prevent HIV and increase use of sexual and reproductive health services.

? Expand and support young people?s choices and opportunities by ensuring and investing in access to youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services including family planning, particularly for marginalized adolescent girls and young women, those living with disabilities and in humanitarian situations.

? Reaffirm the goal of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, in line with the Declaration of Commitment on HIV (2001) and the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS (2006).

? Embrace the vision of Zero New Infections, Zero AIDS Related Death and Zero Discrimination and support efforts to achieve the three Bold Results on HIV and Young People under the UNAIDS Strategy 2011-2015, namely, (1) Raising comprehensive knowledge to 80%, (2) Doubling condom use amongst young people and (3) Doubling HIV testing among young people - in order to reduce new HIV infections among young people by 30% by 2015.

? Support integrated approaches to sustainable development that build on people?s expressed needs, and strengthen community-based strategies, including through the meaningful participation of young people.

In the context of the Institutional Framework, member states should:

? Ensure the meaningful participation of young people in decision making processes, by putting in place enabling structures and supportive policies and through building the capacities of youth-led organizations.

? National development plans, poverty reduction strategies, sustainable development strategies, policies and programmes should be planned, implemented, monitored and evaluated in equal partnership with young people through a participatory approach.

? Young people and youth-led organizations should be empowered to hold their governments accountable for their commitments including through monitoring budgets and participation in appropriate institutional mechanisms.


1. Albanian Center for Population and Development

2. CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality

3. Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice (RESURJ)

4. Star Star Macedonia


6. YouAct

7. Youth Action Nepal

8. Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights

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