UNFPA Chief Discusses Impacts of the Global Transformation of Economies and Societies

February 4, 2013

On Monday, February 4, as part of their continuing series of Global Roundtables, GFDD and FUNGLODE had the pleasure of hosting José Miguel Guzmán, Chief of the Population and Development Branch of the United Nations Population Fund.

Central in this intense discussion was the question of global population dynamics that the world faces today. José Miguel Guzmán defines the current demographic trends as megatrends. Nowadays, these trends are transforming
economies and societies around the globe and they will have even a greater impact in the future. The megatrends include such processes as ageing, migration and urbanization. Ageing brings to the fore the problem of changing the age structure of population which spells a greater demand for pensions for older people, on the one hand, and a greater need for education, jobs and housing for younger generations, on the other.

In regard to migration, there are some recent changes in migration waves. According to the Chief of UNFPA, until recently migration has followed the pattern of moving from underdeveloped countries to developed ones but the trend of south-south migration is becoming popular too. The migration north-south is also remarkable, where retired populations
from the north are settling down in southern countries with a lower cost of living. Moving north-south, however, raises an acute problem of the lack of services and institutions for migrants in those countries.

José Miguel Guzmán continued with the third megatrend which is urbanization. In his view, Latin America is more urbanized than any other developing country in the world. The urbanization process in Africa, for example, has doubled in the last decade which,
in turn, has doubled the need for housing, jobs, transportation etc. Guzmán remarked that the extent to which the urbanization trend will have an impact around the world in the future depends on how well “we plan our actions to cope with it today.”

When asked about what the post 2015 agenda for UNFPA would be, the honored guest noted that in this ever changing world the expectations from UNFPA would continue to grow and diversify. Upon conclusion of
the 20 year Plan of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the United Nations Population Fund will continue to work on advancing the right of women to take decisions; improving the rates of mortality; combating inequality and resolving problems caused by migration and  ageing.

José Miguel Guzmán concluded the discussion with a remark that at this time, when the results of the MDGs efforts are being evaluated, we must stay positive and
reflect on what we have learned until now. For the first time, he said, all the countries were brought together and the world has become one unity, so as to work towards a common goal of making the Earth a better place.