Accra, 3 June 2015 – An entire session was devoted to presentations by UN officials at the just ended 4th World Summit of Mayors held in Accra. The UNDP, UNFPA, IOM and UNICEF were fully represented on Day 2 of the 3-day summit.
UNDP Country Representative Dominic Sam (Credit: AMA)
The UNDP representative Mr. Dominic Sam, spoke on issues that bothered around the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He emphasized the fact that “we live in a rapidly changing world” and that as of 2015, 95% of the urban expansion would be in the developing world mostly Africa and Asia. He also maintained that without collaboration between the Mayors and the Chiefs, MDGs and SDGs would be unattainable. To this end, as a concluding remark, the speaker therefore implored the leaders not to be spectators but to take the lead in the fulfillment of the MDGs.
UN Officials at the Summit
For his part, the representative of the UNFPA Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi spoke on issues related to Demographic Dividends explaining the concept as the benefit that arises when a country has a colossal number of working population and invests enormously into education and women empowerment. He made known the fact that due to the youth purge prevalent in the world today arising from the number of adolescents totaling 1.8 billion of the world’s population, it was imperatively important that gargantuan investment be made into education, health facilities and girl/women empowerment in order to harness the demographic dividends of the country.
The subsequent speaker representing the International Organization of Migration (IOM), Mr. Azu Samri discussed issues centered on migration trends in the 21st century asserting that 222 million people engaged in international migration and about 740 million people worldwide were internal migrants. He also maintained that more than half of the world’s population live in urban areas.
He asserted that 31 million Africans migrated in 2013 which has caused severe Brain Drain on Africa, loss of skills significant for development which has led to Africa’s dependency on foreign products while the countries of destination have continued to receive addition manpower provided by migrating Africans. To this end, the IOM created the Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA) which is saddled with the responsibility to assist African States in achieving their economic and development goals so as to lessen the rate of Brain Drain from Africa. He proposed three methods through which this objective would be accomplished: Enabling, Engaging and Empowering the Diaspora for development in Africa. He informed the gathering that the IOM is planning to organize a forum that will bring together Mayors, Leaders, and Presidents amongst others to discuss issues on migration.
For UNICEF, Ms. Susan Ngongi discussed on issues surrounding Child Poverty. She emphasized that children should get the best investment available from their guardians and from the society at large. She also postulated that to ensure that the socio economic status of parents doesn’t pass on automatically to children, child poverty needs to be tackled with all seriousness. She concluded her speech by noting that due to the fact that African Mayors are busy and getting busier, Child poverty is on the rise and therefore needs to be tackled effectively so as to abate it to the barest minimum.