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Ministerial Conference on Demographic Resilience: Pathways for Societies to Thrive in a World of Rapid Demographic Change

Many countries in Europe and Central Asia face rapid demographic change: people have fewer children and live longer, and many leave their countries to look for opportunities elsewhere. Societies are growing older and, in many cases, are getting smaller, especially in Eastern Europe where low fertility rates are compounded by high levels of outward migration.

The hybrid online/in-person Ministerial Conference on Demographic Resilience aims to contribute to strengthening the capacity of countries in Europe and Central Asia to respond to the profound demographic shifts the region is experiencing.

The conference, which runs from 1-2 December, will convene heads of state or government, ministers and other representatives of governments, civil society, the private sector, academia and the international community. It will kick off a Decade for Demographic Resilience that will mobilize political support for policy responses that are comprehensive, grounded in evidence, and based on human rights. And it will provide a platform for the exchange of experiences and sound policy advice, enabling countries to mitigate negative effects and fully harness the opportunities that come with demographic change.

Confirmed speakers include:

Ruman Radev, President of Bulgaria 
Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography
Dr. Natalia Kanem, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA
Galab Donev, Deputy Prime Minister of Economic and Social Policies and Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Bulgaria 
Svetlan Stoev, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bulgaria
Maryna Lazebna, Minister of Social Policy, Ukraine
Dr. Andreas Edel, Executive Secretary, Population Europe

 

Q&As

What is the conference about?

The Ministerial Conference on Demographic Resilience is about the demographic changes countries in Europe and Central Asia are experiencing and how best to respond to them. Demographic phenomena such as low fertility rates, population ageing or migration are often portrayed as crises in the public discourse. There is no question that some demographic trends can create challenges to countries’ economies, social systems and the sustainability of infrastructure and services. But these challenges can generally be anticipated and mitigated with the right policy mix. And demographic change also always comes with opportunities, for example for more inclusion of women, older people and those on the margins. The conference is about identifying ways to mitigate challenges related to demographic change – and making the most of the opportunities that come with it, based on evidence and human rights.       

What is special about this conference?

This is the first time countries from across Europe and Central Asia are coming together at ministerial level under the auspices of the United Nations to discuss the implications of, and responses to, population decrease and demographic change more broadly. Globally, and in Europe and Central Asia, demographic change has been identified as one of the megatrends that affect the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals – and, more broadly, the future of societies in terms of economy, environment and social development. With countries in the region getting ready to confront a challenging future, this is the right moment to tackle demographic change as a key factor for ensuring prosperity and sustainability.      

Who is organizing the conference?

The Ministerial Conference on Demographic Resilience is organized by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Government of Bulgaria, in cooperation with Population Europe and the Vice-President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography. 

Who is participating in the conference?

The conference is divided into a high-level political segment and discussions on policy solutions and good practice examples. The high-level segment will include participation of current and former Heads of State or Government and Ministers.

The Conference will bring together about 300 representatives of governments, civil society, the private sector, academia and the international community, as well as members of parliaments and other stakeholders. 

Due to the ongoing pandemic the conference will be held as a hybrid event, with participants joining in person as well as online.

What are the themes covered by the conference?

The conference agenda is organized around six themes, or dialogues:

- Population ageing
- Revitalization of rural areas 
- Fertility 
- Gender equality and family policies 
- Aspirations of young people
- Financing of social policies

What will come out of the conference? 

The goals set for the conference include:

- contributing to shifting the predominant narrative from a focus on demographic crisis to a focus on opportunities and solutions;
- generating high-level political support for a vision that addresses demographic change that is comprehensive, grounded in evidence, and based on human rights;
- identifying key determinants and pathways to enhance demographic resilience and demographic dynamism through policies, programmes, and partnerships and new technologies for countries to fully harness the potential of demographic change and mitigate negative consequences, in support of national and global development goals; and
- launching a Decade of Demographic Resilience 2022-2032 and a Member State-led community of practice on demographic resilience to facilitate sharing of experiences and broker policy advice and technical assistance. 

Who can participate?

United Nations Member States have been invited to participate in the high-level political segment at ministerial level, and to send delegations to participate in other conference events.  

Representatives of civil society, private sector, media, academia and the international community, as well as members of parliaments and other stakeholders interested in participating are encouraged to register (registration link forthcoming).

More information

For more information, please contact: 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria: yangelova@mfa.bg and un@mfa.bg 
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA): eecaro.office@unfpa.org