The Commission on Population and Development (CPD) is one of the oldest UN bodies, established in Resolution 3 by ECOSOC in 1946. At the time, the Commission was called the “Population Commission” and was charged with compiling statistics and analysis of the aging and population trends of each country around the world. The committee experienced a major overhaul in 1994 following the Programme of Action that was agreed upon at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). This is also when the body was renamed to the CPD. This change refocused the committee from guiding countries to achieve general demographic goals to helping countries provide for their citizens in the face of stressors related to population profiles and how they evolve over time. To that end, the CPD meets to make recommendations to member states and ECOSOC about how individuals’ needs are being met in countries and country subdivisions around the world.
Topic A: Diversifying Developing Economies to Reduce Economic Inequality
For many developing states, a narrowly focused economy that is reliant on one or a few industries presents significant obstacles to development. Especially in developing states with abundant natural resources, GDP growth in single-industry states does not tend to yield the same social benefits as growth in non-resource-rich states. This uneven growth is due to a number of factors, including inequitable distribution of resources, covert and illicit government expenditure of profits, and exploitation by multinational corporations. The results are high levels of pervasive economic inequality visible at almost every level of society. In these states, widespread social ills including poverty, mental illness, lower life expectancy, reduced educational performance, and limited social mobility become permanent fixtures of life. Moreover, the wealthy elite in a narrow economy tend to hold disproportionate political power, inhibiting the ability of the people to vote for economic reforms. Prioritizing the diversification of a state’s economy is thus an essential aspect of sustainable development globally.
Topic B: Changing Population Structures and Sustainable Development
The population age structure of a society—how its age-based demographics exist today and change over time—has widespread implication for states, notably the strain placed on social services such as healthcare. Scientific models such as the Demographic Transition Model (DTM) can also help population scientists predict how a group’s population will change as it reaches different development milestones. Today, many places around the world are seeing aging populations with fewer percentages of young people. In many ways, this is a good thing, as it is a result of people living longer lives. However, the rate at which countries go through demographic transition varies greatly, and failing to account for the unique age structure of a population when trying to address sustainable development can “exacerbate existing gaps in development.” Least developed countries (LDCs), especially sub-Saharan states, are usually in the earlier stages of demographic transition, leaving them with much younger populations than the majority of developed countries. A youthful population’s skills can provide many opportunities for a country to bring about high levels of development. For developed countries, providing sufficient end of life and disability care for the aging population, becomes an increasing challenge. By developing strategies for both types of countries and helping them navigate the transitions that their population structures see, CPD’s can help improve the lives of people in all types of states and ensure that their needs are met no matter the stage of life that they are in.