Large Population Does Not Automatically Contribute More To Emission, Says Top UNFPA Official - Eastern Mirror
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Large population does not automatically contribute more to emission, says top UNFPA official

6092
By PTI Updated: Jun 25, 2023 6:36 pm
India surpasses China to become world's most populous nation
**EDS: FILE PHOTO** Mumbai: In this Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022 file photo, a crowded market outside Dadar railway station in Mumbai. India has surpassed China to become the world’s most populous nation with 142.86 crore people, UN data showed. (PTI Photo/Kunal Patil)(PTI04_19_2023_000081B)

NEW DELHI — There is a need to rectify the notion that countries with large populations contribute more to emissions, a senior UNFPA official said, underlining that developing nations face the worst impact despite being some of the lowest producers of greenhouse gases.

According to United Nations estimates, India has become the most populous country in the world with over 142 crore people. However, the government is yet to conduct a census for an official figure.

Speaking to PTI, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Director of Technical Division Dr Julitta Onabanjo said one of the things “we definitely are trying to also correct is this notion that because you have a large population, it’s contributing to climate emissions”.

“What matters is the pattern of consumption. And we know that, for the most part, it’s the developing countries that face the worst impact, yet, they have contributed the least to greenhouse gases,” she said.

“We would like to build more awareness on this issue.”

Onabanjo added that the richest nations, many of which have populations that are stable or declining, are those with the highest emissions, the highest consumption patterns, and the largest carbon footprint.

“Data shows that the richest half of nations account for 86 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions even though they have the lowest fertility rates,” the official said.

“However, the nations with younger populations, and relatively higher population growth, also have the lowest rates of carbon emission, the smallest footprint and yet they bear the brunt of climate vulnerabilities and impact. Placing the burden of climate change mitigation efforts on women’s bodies diverts responsibility from governments and the private sector, particularly those with financial investment in fossil fuels,” she explained.

On India becoming the most populous nation, Onabanjo said the country has a large youthful population that has so much to offer in terms of human capital.

“India’s investment in its youthful population, especially in health, education, capacities, skills and employment and entrepreneurship, will make a real difference to how India reaches its aspirations of a developed country,” Onabanjo said.

The other characteristic of India’s demography, she said, is that its national average fertility rate has gone below the replacement rate but there are significant variations in the fertility rate that opens up new opportunities for development.

She said, “The southern states of India in particular have had low fertility rates for decades now while most of the northern and eastern states have higher fertility from where most of the population growth is coming.”

“This is an opportunity for India to invest and gain from well managed migration policies. What we see is a lot of internal migration prospects, again, for jobs, rural-urban movements, etc and I think that’s healthy,” the UNFPA official added.

Onabanjo is on a visit to India and has a number of engagements, including a field visit to Rajasthan.

However, she also flagged risks such as exclusion and discrimination.

“…as we have seen with any migration, there are risks of exclusion or discrimination. If a young person is going to move from the north to the south, they must feel safe to do that. They must feel part of a community and a country so that all sense of patriotism will be very useful. This is where India is managing well and should continue to do so, valuing its diversity and democracy,” she said.

Onabanjo stressed on the need for investment in proper abilities for women and their partners to access contraceptives and enable them to make better fertility choices.

Looking at the fertility trends, the UNFPA official highlighted the need to “ensure that ultimately the desires and choices of women and families, in terms of their fertility preference, are met through various family planning programmes that really ensure rights and choices”.

She added, “And to be able to then also look at that relation to the movements, population, what we see is a lot of internal migration prospects, again, for jobs, rural urban movements, etc and I think that’s healthy.”

India has a varied demography with Kerala having an ageing population in comparison to other parts of the country while states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar having a younger population that often leads to migration from the north to the south.

Onabanjo also underscored the critical role of data in effective planning.

She stressed on the need to disaggregate data — whether through big data, census data, civil registration and vital statistics data or household population surveys — to understand and address the specific needs of different population segments.

She also urged governments to utilise and believe in the data provided as evidence-based policymaking is vital for progress.

6092
By PTI Updated: Jun 25, 2023 6:36:37 pm
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