49th Commission on Population and Development
General Debate under Item 4 on national experience in population matters: "Strengthening the demographic evidence base for the post-2015 development agenda"
Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations.
United Nations, New York, 12 April 2016
Thank you Madam Chair,
It is my honor to offer my warmest congratulations and welcome for you Madame Chair, and members of your bureau on your elections to the 49th Session of the Commission on Population and Development. Let me also express gratitude to the Secretary General for the reports prepared with regards to this mandate.
The 1994 Cairo Conference produced a landmark agreement that placed people at the heart of development. The ICPD brought real change to peoples lives all over the world. Today, fewer women die in childbirth, more women have access to sexual and reproductive health information, education and work.
In the Maldives, the infant mortality rates that stood at 120.7 per 1000 live births has now decreased to 6 per 1000 live births in 2015. Life expectancy has increased from 47 years to 78 years. Policies have been strengthened and investments increased to foster more opportunities for the youth. Comprehensive laws have been enacted and enforced to eliminate barriers for women to join the workforce; to create opportunities for women's participation in the political sphere and to ensure zero tolerance against discrimination and violence against women.
Twenty years on, there is no doubt that the ICPD commitments have improved the quality of people's lives and laid a critical foundation for a universally relevant sustainable agenda. It is also true that, we still have a long way to go in realizing the promises we made in 1994. Many countries continue to suffer difficulties and social economic disparities, while many people around the world still live below the poverty line. These realities are a major challenge to the global vision of prosperity we all aspire to achieve.
The recently adopted 2030 Agenda echoes the many commitments made in Cairo in 1994. With this global agenda, we now have a once in a generation opportunity to come together to end global poverty, protect the rights and dignity of all peoples and secure the future of our planet for future generations. The special theme for this year, "Strengthening the demographic evidence base for the post-2015 development agenda" is pertinent and timely.
If the commitment to leave no one behind is to lead to real change, we must be able to identify the most vulnerable, and identify appropriate intervention to improve and monitor their welfare. This calls for the disaggregation and use of population data for planning, evaluation and monitoring of progress. Demographic data lie at the heart of the monitoring and evaluation of any development agenda, as population numbers are the common denominator used in constructing most indicators of human development
In the Maldives, efforts are already underway to bring the internationally agreed sustainable development goals home. It has therefore become imperative to strengthen efforts to harmonize and analyze the data that would contribute to more relevant, efficient and action oriented planning and monitoring of the national implementation of Agenda 2030.
The most recent census of Maldives published last year focuses on five key areas; population and households; migration; education; employment; and nuptiality and fertility. The census has been a core source of demographic data for the Maldives, it is the largest national statistical exercise and provides the most comprehensive source of information on population and households in the country. Maldives has been conducting census since 1911. However, the first nationally integrated census was conducted in 1977. Censuses were conducted every five years between 1985 and 2000. The 2005 census was delayed due to tsunami of 2004, leaving a gap of 8 years between the last two censuses.
Due to our size and geographical disparity, the Maldives, along with other small island developing states, experience difficulties in collecting and analyzing date. Our national experience in collecting demographic data has emphasized the need for new approaches including use of new data sources, the need for ICT and development of statistical skills and expertise of national statistical systems.
Considerable progress has been made throughout the world in building and strengthening the capacity of national statistical systems over the past years, but much still remains to be done. Too many countries are still operating under severe financial and human resource constraints. Access to new technology and knowledge must be provided to improve data collection efficiency and quality. Also, we must expand partnerships to promote collaborative research and share best practices. With the adoption of the Agenda 2030, it has become ever more important to ensure that national statistical systems are adequately financed. The 2030 Agenda also affords an opportunity to further strengthen our collective capacity in statistical and data capacity. The Maldives stands ready to avail the opportunities that the 2030 Agenda presents and stands ready to join efforts to enable a true data revolution. We must ensure that everyone is counted, that progress is monitored, and that the furthest behind are reached if we are to leave no one behind.