Population dynamics

Involvement in almost all areas of German development cooperation

International Dialogue on Population and Sustainable Development 2012: Sivananthi Thanenthiran (Asia Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women Malaysia, ARROW) speaks about population dynamics in the 21st century.

In almost all sectors of German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion, measures are already being carried out that impact directly or indirectly on the popu­la­tion dynamics of a coun­try. On the one hand the causes of specific demographic trends are being addressed, on the other hand people are being helped to adapt to these trends and the resultant economic and social problems.

The guiding principle for Germany's de­vel­op­ment policy in the field of popu­la­tion dynamics is the Programme of Action from the 1994 Cairo Conference on Population and De­vel­op­ment. The Programme formulates clear goals for sus­tain­able gender-sensitive policy based on human rights in the field of popu­la­tion and de­vel­op­ment. Sexual and reproductive health is understood as a self-determined right.

The priority area of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

In order to contribute to sus­tain­able popu­la­tion policy in the coun­tries with which we cooperate, Germany has been providing support in particular for pro­grammes concerned with sexual and repro­ductive health and rights (SRHR). Following the 2010 G8 summit in Muskoka in Canada, the financial and programmatic scope of the German contribution to the 4th and 5th Millennium De­vel­op­ment Goals (MDG 4: reducing child mortality; MDG 5: improving maternal health) was expanded.

The BMZ’s Initiative on Rights-based Family Planning and Maternal Health, published in May 2011, also specifically focuses on ensuring that all people can exercise their human right to decide for them­selves when and at what intervals they want to have children and how many children they will have. The pro­grammes in the field of sexual and repro­ductive health and rights are often linked with education projects.

Taking account of the consequences of popu­la­tion dynamics

Drip irrigation on a field in Ethiopia. Copyright: Thomas Koehler/photothek.netIn addition to the core areas mentioned above, the efforts to address the consequences of popu­la­tion dynamics also involve almost all other sectors of German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion. Population dynamics mean growing numbers of users and changes in geographical distribution, making all problems more acute. German projects aim, among other things, to open up and preserve access to social services, food, natural resources and energy for disadvantaged and poor people.

For example, programmes in sectors such as water, ag­ri­cul­ture and protecting natural resources include measures for adapting to the consequences of popu­la­tion dynamics. Projects concerned with migration, urban de­vel­op­ment and social protection also take certain aspects of popu­la­tion dynamics into account.

Reorientation of German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion

Population dynamics require that German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion pro­grammes offer adaptation and co­op­er­a­tion activities that go beyond what has been done before. That means, above all, strengthening the activities in selected areas and seeing popu­la­tion dynamics more as a cross-cutting topic which is implemented accordingly.

To mark World Population Day on 11 July 2013, the BMZ published a position paper on Population Dynamics in German De­vel­op­ment Co­op­er­a­tion. The paper describes three priority fields of action:

  • Establishing popu­la­tion dynamics in the in­ter­national and national policy dialogue
  • Data-based de­vel­op­ment
  • Placing a strategic focus on young people as a target group

Policy dialogue

International Dialogue on Population and Sustainable Development 2012: Pakistani health expert Anisa Afrida and Horst Matthaeus, Programme Manager and Governance Advisor in Bhaktapur, Nepal, discussing gender equality. Copyright: Bayer/MeinholdThe BMZ is already heavily and successfully engaged in efforts to move the topic of popu­la­tion dynamics up the in­ter­national political agenda. These efforts are to be further intensified. In 2014 we will mark the 20th anniversary of the Cairo In­ter­national Conference on Population and De­vel­op­ment (ICPD+20). There will be numerous in­ter­national conferences to mark the occasion, and consultations to analyse the achievements of the 1994 Programme of Action and draw conclusions for the future.

In the discussion about the new post-2015 global de­vel­op­ment goals, too, the BMZ will be advocating that popu­la­tion dynamics should be given greater attention. At the same time, the De­vel­op­ment Ministry will put even greater emphasis on the importance of popu­la­tion dynamics and sexual and repro­ductive health and rights in its dialogue with partner coun­tries. The aim of these efforts is to ensure that Germany's partner coun­tries devote more attention to these topics and, together with Germany, take an active stance in the in­ter­national debate.

Working with its partners, the BMZ organises the In­ter­national Dialogue on Population and Sustainable De­vel­op­ment – a networking event that enjoys global respect. Over the last ten years more than 1,000 experts from over 50 coun­tries have taken part in this series of events, making the most of the chances offered to discuss the opportunities and challenges of popu­la­tion dynamics from different perspectives.

Data-based de­vel­op­ment

When governments have access to comprehensive and reliable popu­la­tion statistics and analyses, they can plan national strategies and service delivery more precisely, and they can adjust their priorities and their policies accordingly. The BMZ will therefore create the foundations for making greater use of demo­graphic data, analyses and projections in Germany's partner coun­tries and in German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion projects. The data are to be used for needs planning, implementation and monitoring efforts.

Young people as a target group

Student in a vocational training school in Luang Namtha, Laos. Copyright: Thomas Imo/photothek.netPutting a stronger strategic focus in de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion on young people as a target group is an approach that is being tested in selected partner coun­tries. Important fields of action in this context are health, employment and education.

There are already signs that, in addition to these priority areas, other topics are also becoming more im­por­tant. They include migration and the rise in the number of people living in towns; the interaction between popu­la­tion dynamics, the en­vi­ron­ment and climate change; and preparations for the forthcoming ageing of previously young societies.

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