The importance of integrating population issues into all aspects of economic and social activity has been highlighted by the Report of the Secretary General.
Demographic changes and trends in world population are both a challenge and an opportunity to ensure that development processes are sustainable and comprehensive.
Member States and International Organizations have a crucial role in ensuring that population growth goes along with greater prosperity and higher standards of living for all. At the same time, we are concerned by the impact that the current unsustainable patterns of consumption and production have, as well as by the growing pressure for the delivery of basic services to people in need.
The report argues that we need to invest further on population issues to ensure that the most critical components of the ICPD Programme of Action are achieved. Among these components, I would like to stress those relating to the right to freedom, dignity, education and access to resources for all, including universal access to sexual and reproductive health for women and adolescents. Advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights is essential not only for the well-being of a few individuals: it paves the way to more responsible reproductive choices, which will grant a better future to the children of tomorrow and their families and will therefore benefit all countries.
We continue to witness persistent unacceptable practices such as child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation and violence against children and women. Italy has constantly and consistently acted, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to eliminate all those practices that harm women and girls and prevent them from fulfilling their potential. As proof of it, we will continue to fund the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation.
The positive role of migrants in reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development through remittances should also be adequately recognised. Italy is on the forefront to reduce the cost of remittances to no more than 5 % and has fostered consultations among all concerned stakeholders, creating an ad hoc Working Group on Remittances.
Finally, Madame Chair, let me stress that aging is a serious concern for several developed countries and will soon become a major issue in most parts of the world: longer life spans and lower fertility – desirable and welcome as they may be – alter the shape of the age structure. Traditional systems of support for the old age are getting weaker; pension systems, where they exist, are under stress; and new health issues, linked to old age, are emerging. Preparing for a better future means that these topics will soon have to be faced openly.
I thank you, Madame Chair.