NEW YORK, April 8, 2008
Thank you Mr. Chairperson. It is an honour for me to address this assembly today. Let me begin by congratulating you and your colleagues in the Bureau on your election.
Canada will work to maintain a balanced and constructive role on the issues being addressed by the Commission on Population and Development this session. Population distribution, urbanization, internal migration and development are part of a complex global phenomenon that presents challenges and opportunities. It has important demographic, economic, environmental and social facets as the movement of people within and among countries increases.
Canada continues to support initiatives that reinforce and focus on commitments made at the ICPD as well as the Beijing Conference on women and development and the UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. The carefully negotiated principles and goals of the programs of action that emerged from these conferences remain relevant today as important frameworks for achieving international poverty reduction and development goals. The implementation of those commitments will contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Current demographic trends will have significant worldwide impact in coming years and must be taken seriously by all members of the international community. As a country that is open to the world, Canada has a direct stake in working with the international community to find solutions to global issues like demographic change.
Effectively addressing the impact of internal migration on development requires an improved evidence-base. These flows are particularly important given their magnitude, and studies are showing that the poorest can only afford to migrate over shorter distances, if at all.
Evidence also shows that internal migration and urbanization offer different, and often unequal, opportunities to women, men, girls and boys, often exposing them to different risks and potential human rights violations. Human rights, gender equality and generational dimensions are therefore important considerations that we must be integrating in a crosscutting fashion in our work at this Commission.
Canada recognizes the scale and nature of urbanization and has been working in a number of areas related to the theme of this year’s CPD session domestically and in our international development work. In fact, the development of social policy and programming for Canadians is shaped by domestic social, economic, demographic, jurisdictional and political realities that stem from population distribution and the movement of people. It is important to ensure that we are responsive to the needs of our citizens and to the context in which they live. Our international approaches are informed by our domestic experience.
Over the past ten years, the Government of Canada has made progress in removing socio-economic barriers for our urban Aboriginal population by working through partnerships with Aboriginal communities, provincial and municipal governments and other stakeholders under the Urban Aboriginal Strategy.
Internationally, Canada is working closely with UN-HABITAT and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. We are also interested in furthering cooperation with other States and with international networks, such as Metropolis, to share best practices and lessons learned in the area of urban indigenous issues and migration. This year’s World Urban Forum will provide an important venue to further this dialogue and seek out ways to enhance cooperation.
Canada promotes and encourages stronger linkages with the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) and its work on urban Indigenous Peoples and migration issues and the goal of conducting rigorous disaggregation of population data for evidence-based analysis and aid effectiveness.
Canada was pleased to support the Expert Group Meeting on Urban Indigenous Peoples and Migration, held in Santiago, Chile in March 2007, in partnership with the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum, United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Latin America and the Caribbean Demographic Centre (ECLAC), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). These linkages help strengthen our collective capacity to address critical issues of Indigenous Peoples and minority group inclusion in areas such as governance, conflict prevention, socio-economic development, health, education, environmental sustainability, and gender equality between men and women, girls and boys.
Canada supports the view that initiatives to improve sexual and reproductive health care and services, including in the area of HIV/AIDS, are essential for international poverty reduction and development. Such initiatives should respond to the issues, needs and responsibilities of women, men, boys and girls, while ensuring equitable access to programs, care, services and education at all levels.
Canada recognizes that the three health-related Millennium Development Goals cannot be achieved without building strong and sustainable health systems in developing countries. Health-systems strengthening is therefore a priority for Canada. The Canadian International Development Agency is working with developing countries and international organizations to strengthen health systems and increase the number of front-line health workers. As an example of our efforts, Canada is leading on the Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives, which focuses on improving the quality and quantity of community-based health workers trained to prevent and treat basic childhood and maternal illness. Given the detrimental impact of the global shortage of human resources for health in many countries, especially in Africa, Canada is actively engaged in developing health workforces at the country level.
As we stated earlier, the implementation of the ICPD's programme of action serves as a valuable framework for achieving internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. We thus look forward to constructive and fruitful discussions over the next few days to enable us to improve or develop more effective policies and programmes to accelerate implementation in all regions of the ICPD agenda.