Lessons from the 48th session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD48)
So a fortnight agoo nations of the world trooped to the United Nations Headquarters in New York for the forty eight session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development. Since the landmark 1994 International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo, the globe has been implementing its twenty year Program of Action that was to end last year.
This process realized major strides in poverty reduction, literacy levels, fertility and maternal mortality reduction, human rights among others. However, as is synonymous with many visions and development plans, there were a lot of targets that were not achieved. This formed the rationale behind extending the Program of Action and the ICPD process indefinitely.
I was honored to be among the delegates from different nations attending this conference this year. It was a particular a huge honor for me to be part of the official government of Kenya delegation as a youth representative. This was only made possible by the progressive nature of the National Council for population and Development and her Director General. Benin too had a youth representative and so did Netherlands and a few other countries.
The Netherlands is one country that has always entrenched meaningful youth participation by enlisting youths in their official delegation. Their youth ambassador, Lotte Djkistra had the opportunity of making a statement on behalf of the country. The involvement of young people in policy making process was one of the best moments of the conference. It was an admission that the world is beginning to trust their young people with key decisions. It was also a moment that reemphasized the need for more meaningful adult-youth partnerships.
Meeting youths from other backgrounds and cultures, realities and expectations, history and dreams was particularly a learning moment and provided an immense opportunity to understand where we are all coming from.
However, it was disappointing not to have an outcome document from the session after over one week of hard negotiations and bargains. Whereas nations have different realities, we cannot afford to behave as if carbon gas emissions from China doesn’t affect Alaska or that high HIV prevalence in Kenya does not affect America or that Ebola in Sierra Leone doesn’t affect New Zealand.
The reality of our world as a global village demands that we have common positions against common threats and take advantage of global opportunities to boost peace and security, technology, trade among other shared interests.
Whereas we must acknowledge our different cultural and religious backgrounds we must never behave like the proverbial ostrich who continued to hide the head in the sand and hoped the danger will go away.
More important though, we need to ensure we don’t repeat the same ills that impeded realization of previous goals as we prepare to embark on the proposed Sustainable Development Goals. As such we need we need stronger accountability and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to keep on telling us where we are and what we need to do to measure progress and achieve the plethora of targets.
But this international declarations and processes including the POST 2015 Agenda will not yield any fruits unless their impact can be felt by the ‘mama mboga’ in Migori Town or a cane cutter in Muhoroni.
That’s why it is important that the commitments made at the international and regions levels be domesticated and integrated into national planning and local development programs.
Despite the heart ache of failing to agree on our population and development priorities at CPD48, the young people of the world have a reason to keep dreaming.