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10th International Dialogue

Population dynamics in the 21st century – Transforming challenges into opportunities
October 24 - 25, 2012 | GIZ House, Reichpietschufer 20, Berlin

The 10th International Dialogue on Population and Sustainable Development - Population dynamics in the 21st century – Transforming challenges into opportunities took place on October 24 - 25, 2012.

Population dynamics in the 21st century – Transforming challenges into opportunities


When 10 years ago the “International Dialogue on Population and Sustainable Development” was organized for the first time, it was not yet evident that this format would become one of the main events of the partners involved to discuss population dynamics and policy issues related to sexual and reproductive health and rights with international experts and development practitioners.

2012 marks a critical year on the road to International Conference on Population and Development / ICPD 2014 and Millennium Development Goals / MDG at 2015. The Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development gave recommendations for developing Sustainable Development Goals. Many other relevant processes shaping the post-2015-development agenda have started or will do so soon.

Population dynamics -including growth, household size, population distribution by age and sex, and urban and rural – all affect the ability of individuals, families, communities and governments to adapt to these realities. Population growth, density and migration increase the demand for natural resources like water, energy and food, and further exacerbate environmental problems. At the same time environmental issues affect the lives of the people and challenge their adaptive potential at all levels. Addressing population dynamics at national level and globally is the key to sustainable development. Like never before, just because of their magnitude, young people will determine the pace of population growth and sustainable development in the coming years. Linked to this are the sexual and reproductive rights of women and men. Yet, 222 million women still do not have access to contraception and family planning. Therefore women, men and young people must have the ability to realize their sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), access appropriate services and avoid unwanted pregnancies.

There is overwhelming evidence that interdependencies between sexual and reproductive health and rights and nearly all sectors of societal organization are crucial to seeking sustainable solutions as a critical means of addressing global and local problems.

While in the past International Dialogues the organizers directed the discussions towards sexual and reproductive health and rights and how to achieve them, in the 10th International Dialogue the view will turn around and take a look from the standpoint of SRHR towards relevant development sectors that contribute to shaping population dynamics and are influenced by them at the same time.

In the future, International Dialogues towards ICPD 2014 and the MDGs in 2015 will address issues of the international debate concerning population dynamics and development and its relation to sexual and reproductive health and rights. With this, the International Dialogue leaves the inner field of health and addresses the inter-sectoral determinants of population dynamics, building on the outcomes of the ninth dialogue in 2011, which introduced education as a non-health sector with high interdependencies in regard to population dynamics.

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, the 10th International Dialogue aims to contribute to the international debates concerning the future development goals for sustainable and just development and to support a new inter-sectoral policy of Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) regarding its work on population dynamics. Experts, development practitioners and – last but not least – young people will discuss together the opportunities and challenges and develop potential problem-solving landscapes in this regard.

Why Governance, Environment/Resources and Food Security?


Population dynamics show an unprecedented demographic change. It is estimated that by 2100 the world’s population will amount to approximately 10.1 billion, reaching 9.3 billion by the middle of the century. Essentially most of the growth will take place in less developed countries, which includes most of Sub-Saharan Africa and predominantly among the poorest parts of the populations. These demographic developments impose great pressure on governments to adequately adjust to the arising challenges. Growing populations amplify demands and challenge the state’s capacity to meet the requirements necessary for providing adequate services. Moreover, rapid population growth increases the risk of exclusion and marginalization of large parts of the population and thus challenges the capacity of a state to take the lead in a process of sustainable development. The issues and challenges that arise with a rapid growth in the population of a country are fundamentally inter-related with the political governance of the state in interaction with its society. State players can only govern and manage the state in a sustainable way if they engage in a constructive dialogue with an informed, articulated and organized civil society and private sector. Constructive state-society relations are a key element for the development of resilient states, enabling a sustainable development-oriented management of growing populations and responsible population policies.


The impact of human lifestyles on the environment is becoming increasingly evident. Developing countries are bearing the main burden of environmental degradation, especially in relation to the consequences of climate change, which are mainly induced by industrialized and industrializing nations. In these countries the poorer communities are affected most, since they are most directly reliant on ecosystem services for their well-being. Population
dynamics are inter-linked with the use of natural resources and climate change, and it is important to understand these processes in order to address the challenge of achieving economically and environmentally sustainable development taking into consideration diverse population dynamics.

Food Security:

Out of the seven billion people who currently inhabit the world, nearly one billion people are chronically undernourished; a further two billion people are affected by malnutrition. Poverty is still a major reason for food and nutrition insecurity. Higher rates of fertility among women living in poor and rural households will tend to increase the share of those experiencing food and nutrition insecurity. This vicious circle impacts on health, especially sexual and reproductive health, of future generations and also comes at a high socioeconomic price.

Population dynamics and food and nutrition security are linked in complex ways. Although today there seems to be enough food available to feed the world’s present population, the continuous growth of population lowers the availability of food per capita. Furthermore, high rates of rural to urban migration have a negative impact on agricultural productivity. Especially young people and men are likely to migrate, resulting in an aging of rural societies and the ‘feminization of agriculture’. As a result, the role of women for food and nutrition security needs to be acknowledged and addressed by cross-sectoral approaches that combine sexual and reproductive health, nutrition and education.


The International Dialogue will contribute to answer the following questions:

  1. How do sectors from outside health contribute towards accelerating or slowing down population development?
  2. How do population dynamics influence the work in sectors outside health?
  3. What are the implications for policy recommendations on population dynamics regarding its international dimension and processes population dynamics for all partners in the International Dialogue, international organizations, civil society and private sector?
  4. How can governments and civil society, including the private sector, work together to ensure that SRHR is a central component to guarantee sustainable development specifically in the post-MDG framework?
  5. What are the consequences and concrete recommendations regarding the discussions of a post-2015 development framework?
    Experts and practitioners will attempt to find answers to these questions.

Invited Experts/Potential Partners

About 60 to 80 experts from selected partner countries and from German and international organizations in the field of development cooperation among them:

  • young people from partner countries;
  • representatives of bi-and multilateral aid agencies working in the fields of nutrition security, governance as well as resources and environment that deal with populations issues in these fields or want to learn about interdependencies of their fields with population issues;
  • representatives of CSOs, the private sector (both north and south) and partner; Governments with practical experience or that take a critical stance with respect to the topics of the International Dialogue;
  • representatives of scientific institutions contributing the results of relevant studies;
  • journalists representing strategically important media.

Format / Methodology

The 10th International Dialogue will use a range of methodologies designed to stimulate exchange between young people, academics, policymakers, practitioners and civil society advocates. Starting with a key note address that will frame the topics of this year’s event, the issues raised there will serve as inputs for three thematic working groups addressing issues of food security, environment/resources and governance. Results of these working groups
will be shared in the plenary and general questions/issues common to all three themes will be discussed on the second day in thematic working groups dealing with the future international development framework and implementation issues at national levels in the form of a world café methodology. Conclusions and recommendations from this exchange will be shared and discussed and will constitute the product of the Dialogue.


Recommendations for partner organizations and partners of the international dialogue for development sectors and for inter-sectoral collaboration as well as for positioning the topic in the international post-MDG debates.

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