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SOFIA, 1 December 2021 – With the right policies in place, countries in Europe can thrive even amid demographic changes that are widely perceived as adverse, speakers stressed today at the opening of a Ministerial Conference on Shaping Europe’s Demographic Future in Sofia.

The conference, organized by the Government of Bulgaria and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in cooperation with Population Europe, brings together ministers and other policy makers with thought leaders and experts to discuss how best to respond to the demographic challenges countries are facing.  

“Demographic change, along with the processes of globalization, digitalization and dynamic technological development, are at the heart of the formation of a new reality facing modern societies,” said Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria.

“People must be at the heart of all our policies. Creating and maintaining a healthy, prosperous and inclusive society is key to a better demographic future for our countries,” he added.

“We call on countries to confront their demographic challenges not through fewer choices, but by enhancing rights and choices, and by investing in the capacity of all people," said Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. 

"It is time to change the narrative around demographic change: it is not a crisis, but an opportunity to break down rigid categories of age, gender and social status and make full use of the immense, untapped potential concealed within our societies,” stressed UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.

The two-day conference covers themes such as population ageing, fertility, gender equality and family policies, aspirations of young people, revitalization of rural areas, and financing of social policies, as well as the interlinkages between demography and democracy. 

At an entirely virtual Demographic Resilience Expo, participants can learn about and engage with good practices and promising initiatives related to addressing demographic change. 

The conference is expected to result in the launch of a Decade of Demographic Resilience 2022-2032 and the Sofia Alliance, a Member State-led community of practice to facilitate sharing of experiences and broker policy advice and technical assistance on strengthening demographic resilience in the region.