Population & Development: The 5 Pillar Breakdown

Development is the expansion of human opportunity and freedom.

This definition is inherent in the commitment made by all member states of the United Nations to achieve universal human rights and the dignity of all persons. It represents the shared aspiration of governments and citizens to ensure that all persons are free from want and fear, and are provided the opportunity and the social arrangements to develop their unique capabilities, participate fully in society, and enjoy well-being.

The Framework of Actions for the follow-up to the Programme of Action of the ICPD Beyond 2014 (A/69/62), also known as the Global Review Report, identifies progress and achievements towards the goals set out in the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). The report illustrates and reaffirms that the path to sustainable development is through the equitable achievement of dignity and human rights, good health, security of place and mobility, and achievements secured through good goverance and accountability, and that the responsibilities of goverance extend to the national and global promotion of integrated social, economic, and environmental sustainability in order to expend opportunity and well-being to future generation. There are 5 themes central to the discussion of population and development. 




The primary attention to dignity and human rights is motivated by the assertion that completing the unfinished agenda of the International Conference will require a focused and shared commitment to human rights, non-discrimination and expanding opportunities for all. Any development agenda that aims at individual and collective well-being and sustainability has to guarantee dignity and human rights to all persons. Principle 1 of the Programme of Action affirmed that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and are entitled to the human rights and freedoms set forth within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights without distinction of any kind. This is similarly affirmed and elaborated in international treaties, regional human rights instruments and national constitutions and laws. As those rights are guaranteed without distinction of any kind, a commitment to non-discrimination and equality in dignity lies at the core of all human rights treaties. This principle was reinforced in the outcomes of regional reviews as well as at global thematic meetings on the Programme of Action beyond 2014. The operational review also afforded an opportunity to focus on the recurrent question of whether achievements since 1994 have expanded opportunities and rights across all segments of society and across diverse locations. Recognizing that poverty is both the cause and the result of social exclusion and that quality education is a path to individual agency, both income inequality and education gains since the International Conference are addressed in the section on dignity and human rights.

The right to the highest attainable standard of health, the significance of good health to the enjoyment of dignity and human rights and the importance of healthy populations to sustainable development are undeniable. The International Conference recognized the centrality of sexual and reproductive health and rights to health and development. Sexual and reproductive health and rights spans the lives of both women and men, offering individuals and couples the right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexual and reproductive health, and to do so free from violence and coercion. Sexual and reproductive health and rights are essential for all people, particularly women and girls, to achieve dignity and to contribute to the enrichment and growth of society, to innovation and to sustainable development. Between 1990 and 2010, the global health burden shifted towards non-communicable diseases and injuries, including those due to ageing. At the same time, communicable, maternal, nutritional and neonatal disorders, many of which are preventable, have persisted in developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Despite aggregate gains in sexual and reproductive health indicators, marked disparities persist across and within countries, further highlighting the persistent inequalities inherent in a development model that continues to leave many behind. The achievement of universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights will depend on strengthening health systems by expanding their reach and comprehensiveness in a holistic manner.

Place and mobility encompasses the social and spatial environments that we live in and move between. The importance of place and mobility as a thematic pillar resides in linking the large-scale trends and dynamics of population — household formation and composition, internal mobility and urbanization, international migration and land and displacement — to the achievement of both individual dignity and well-being and sustainable development. Section IV of the present report reviews the changing social and spatial distributions of the human population since 1994 and puts forward approaches to integrating these changes into public policies so they can support the human needs for a safe and secure place to live and for mobility. It also highlights the need to ensure dignity and human rights for those whose security of tenure and freedom of movement are threatened.

Governance and accountability is the primary means of achieving these goals. The world has seen important shifts in the diffusion of authority and leadership since 1994, with a growing multiplicity of national, municipal, civil society, private sector and other non-State actors. The International Conference generated momentum at the national level for the creation and renewal of institutions to address population dynamics, sustainable development, sexual and reproductive health, the needs of adolescents and youth, and gender equality. The past 20 years have also seen a measurable increase in the formal participation of intended beneficiaries in the planning and evaluation of population- and development-related investments and in the elaboration of common indicators to measure development. As the world reappraises goals for the future, progress in participation is at the core, along with the generation and use of knowledge, adequate resources and cooperation, and the critical and continuing need for global leadership to implement population and development beyond 2014. International human rights protection systems have gained in authority, jurisdiction and monitoring power, and the formal participation of civil society as a political force has grown measurably since 1994, yielding important shifts in rights-based investments. Yet the political power of private wealth has never been more promising, nor more threatening, to global development, demanding more representative, public-sector, accountable global leadership.

Finally, sustainability reaffirms the intrinsic linkages between the goals elaborated in the preceding paragraphs on dignity and human rights, health, place and mobility, and governance, and underscores that discrimination and inequality must be prioritized in both the beyond 2014 and post-2015 agendas for the well-being of the human population and our common home, the planet. The current development model has improved living standards and expanded opportunity for many, yet the economic and social gains have been distributed unequally and have come at great cost to the environment. Environmental impacts, including climate change, affect the lives of all people, but particularly the poor and marginalized who have limited resources to adapt while having contributed the least to human-driven environmental change. This section addresses the linkages between increasingly diverse population dynamics, the environment and inequality, and builds on the four thematic pillars to put forward a set of paths to sustainability that can help to deliver dignity and human rights for all beyond 2014. The integrated and comprehensive approach to population and development set forth in the present report is essential for achieving sustainable development, as set out by Member States and the Secretary-General in their vision for the post-2015 development agenda.



At the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, 179 Governments adopted a landmark 20 year Programme of Action to deliver a more equal, sustainable world.

Led by the United Nations, the main achievement of the ICPD was that it made a clear practical connection between human rights, population dynamics and economic development.

The ICPD Programme of Action highlighted the relationship between gender inequality and poverty, poor health, poor educational attainment and sustainable economic development. It recognised that women and young people are often less able to access their human rights and less likely to gain from the benefits of economic development and that countries needed to focus on the human rights and needs of women and young people.

Since their original commitment was made in Cairo in 1994 governments of member states have re-affirmed their commitment to action on the ICPD Programme of Action every five years.

Key themes addressed in the programme of action


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