UN Resident Coordinator’s speech at the opening of the Arab Council for Population and Development Conference in Baghdad, Iraq
17 May 2023
17 May 2023
Your Excellency Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq, Mr Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani
Your Excellency, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning, Dr Muhammad Ali Tamim
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen
Today, I have the honor to be here to speak on behalf of the United Nations family, at the official opening of the Arab Council for Population and Development Conference and the launching of Iraq’s National Population Policy.
Iraq’s population, currently estimated at 43 million, is growing at a rate considered among the fastest in the world, mainly driven by high birth rates. This growth rate enlists valid concerns of high consumption, its impact on the environment, and challenges of budgeting for infrastructure, health, education, and pension programmes.
That said, focusing exclusively on Iraq’s population growth rates misses the point, and could lead to counter-productive measures and the erosion of human rights. Ensuring that individuals, in particular women, have access to family planning services, can facilitate a drop in fertility and help to accelerate economic and social development.
Excellencies, Iraq is also currently experiencing a remarkable surge in the number of young people, which presents a unique opportunity. By investing in education, health, and employment opportunities for the youth, Iraq could harness their productivity on the medium term and significantly increase a positive economic impact and pave the way for a more prosperous future.
A conducive policy and legislative environment that promotes women’s rights and opportunities for young people is crucial for Iraq’s population program and development. I therefore want to congratulate the Government for launching the National Population Policy that will guide different sectors on best ways of investing in human capital.
Over the past decade, the UN has been actively engaging in addressing population issues in Iraq within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our work has focused on various aspects of population dynamics, including reproductive health, gender equality, youth empowerment, and migration. We have been striving to improv access to quality healthcare services, particularly in underserved areas, and to promote family planning initiatives and reduce maternal and child mortality rates. The UN has also supported programs aimed at empowering women and girls and combating gender-based violence. We also worked to harness the potential of Iraq's youth by providing education, vocational training, and employment opportunities. Furthermore, it has played a crucial role in addressing the challenges posed by internal displacement and migration, providing assistance, and supporting the reintegration of displaced populations.
Finally, the UN in Iraq stands ready to continue supporting governmental efforts to achieve our shared vision of a more prosperous and stable Iraq.
I wish you a fruitful conference.
Ghulam Mohammad Isaczai
Deputy Special Representative, Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq