Saturday, April 4, 2009

Holy See Critical of UN Population Reduction Mentality

In a hard hitting speech to the United Nations, International Commission on population and Development (ICPD+ 15) Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, strongly criticized the "population reduction" mentality evident in the conference preparatory documents

The Archbishop commenced by pointing out that the preparatory documents for the conference were influenced by a strongly anti-life attitude, "In reading the preparatory documents for this session of the Commission one cannot help but get the impression that populations are seen as the hindrance to greater social and economic development rather than vital contributors to the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and greater sustainable development," he said.

Archbishop Migliore also said that 15 years ago"many demographic experts and politicians" were forecasting an apocalyptic vision of a "population explosion." Nevertheless he continued, "now, fifteen years later, the population growth has begun to slow, food production continues to rise to the point where it is capable of supporting a larger global population and is even being diverted to the production of fuel." “It is almost ironic” according to the Archbishop,” that environmental destruction is perpetrated primarily by States with lower growth rates and that developed countries are supporting population growth at home while simultaneously working to reduce it in developing countries."

The Archbishop continued “the increased birth rates in Africa over the last decades have been identified by experts as lowering the elderly dependency ratio and presenting the population with a plentiful workforce capable of providing the Continent with an unprecedented advantage in economic terms over regions whose ageing populations show growing economic challenges. To capitalize on this opportunity, for Africa and ultimately for the whole world, greater commitment must be made to provide economic assistance and investment in human capital and infrastructure to support economic growth. Consequently, additional funding programs which focus upon lowering population growth rather than fostering an environment for development will slow, not expedite, the achievement of the MDGs.”