UN population official says States must prepare for demographic changes

UN population official says States must prepare for demographic changes

A senior United Nations official today told a gathering of experts in Asia that dramatic demographic changes expected in the coming years would present vital challenges to governments and the international community.

Delivering a keynote address to a two-day event titled "Asia's Future Summit" held in Hong Kong, China, the Director of the UN Population Division, Joseph Chamie, predicted that the future would be marked by larger populations, slower growth, lower fertility, lower mortality and longer life, the ageing of the population, increased international migration, greater urbanization, and a greater concentration of people in developing countries.

Looking to the broader implications, Mr. Chamie noted that "with increasing globalization and anti-globalization reactions, mounting attention is being paid to these demographic differentials and their economic, social and political consequences." He observed that "critical questions are being raised relating to issues of equality and equity in the distribution of goods, services and opportunities, especially with regard to health, education, housing, employment and old-age security."

Reached by the UN News Service following his address, Mr. Chamie emphasized that overall, the developments he had discussed were welcome. "This whole thing is very positive, because the ageing of the society is a consequence of the decrease of infant, child and maternal mortality rates, increased longevity, and a more pronounced decrease in fertility, with men and women having the ability to choose when and how many children to have," he said.

He also cautioned that States must take these demographic changes seriously and begin to prepare for their arrival. "Countries must begin early - starting now," he warned. "The longer they wait the more difficult it will be to adjust," he said.