Partners in Creating the Future
The Higher Population Council participates in the Arab Regional Conference on Population and Development: Challenges and Prospects Ten Years After the Cairo Declaration 2013
The Higher Population Council participates in the Arab Regional Conference on Population and Development: Challenges and Prospects Ten Years After the Cairo Declaration 2013
Monday, 18 September 2023

Prof. Issa Al-Masarweh, HPC Secretary General, and Rania Al-Abbadi, HPC Assistant Secretary General, participated  in the Arab  Regional Conference on Population and Development: Challenges and Prospects ten years after the Cairo Declaration 2013. The conference was organized by ESCWA, the United Nations Population Fund-Regional Office for Arab States, the League of Arab States in partnership with the International Planned Parenthood Federation - Arab World Region. Held at the United Nations in Beirut on September 13-14, 2023, the conference included participation of high-level representatives of government institutions and parliamentarians in Arab countries and representatives of civil society organizations, international and regional organizations, United Nations agencies, youth groups and women-led groups, academics and experts from most Arab countries. 

This conference came in the context of the sixth regional review of the International Conference on Population and Development in the Arab States / Cairo Declaration 2013. The conference aimed to provide a common platform for collective reflection and discussions amongst Arab States and all relevant stakeholders and to share lessons learned. Among its goals also was to enable Arab States’ governments to assess the progress achieved and the challenges encountered in implementing the commitments enclosed in the Cairo Declaration, as well as explore policy solutions to accelerate the implementation of the Declaration. Additionally, the conference aimed to offer the opportunity to present the main findings of the regional audit report regarding progress achieved in the implementation of the Declaration, which combines the outcome of data and information submitted in national audit reports.  

The opening session started with orientation speeches delivered by the following: Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations/ Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia ESCWA, Dr. Rola Dashti; under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund UNFPA, Dr. Natalia Kanem; assistant Secretary-General/ Head of the Social Affairs Sector at the League of Arab States, Ambassador Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh; Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation/ Arab World Region, Dr. Fadwa Bakhada; and the Minister of Social Affairs in Lebanon, Hector Hajjar. All speakers stressed the fact that the conference is an  opportunity to envision the future by working together closely and instantaneously  and by seizing opportunities to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and beyond. 

On the first day of the conference, the Higher Population Council was the first to present its sixth national review for the years 2018-2022 as Assistant Secretary-General Rania Al-Abbadi presented the forums with a review of the  progress achieved by Jordan in implementing the ICPD Programme of Action ten years after the Cairo Declaration. Ms. Abbadi pointed out Jordan's commitment to implementing this program as well as adopting  the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Action Plan and Jordan’s commitments to the Nairobi Summit 2019. 

The Jordanian review demonstrated that the last five years of work to implement the  Cairo Declaration witnessed difficult circumstances exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic  and  its repercussion, which compounded economic, social and political challenges and political instability in the region and had an impact on large segments of the population in Jordan. 

The review  also revealed that remarkable progress has been made  in many health, social, economic, political and educational fields in  Jordan, but there are challenges in this area yet to be addressed, most notably, the complex repercussions of the Corona pandemic, global economic challenges, political instability in the Arab region, the refugee crisis and its repercussions, and the global ramifications of the Russian-Ukrainian war. 

The most significant feature of the national review was the fact that the population of Jordan has more than doubled over the past two decades to reach 11.4 million people in mid-2023. The influx and waves of forced asylum accounted for more than half of this population growth. The flow of refugees into the country added more demographic, economic, environmental and security burdens; children under 18 accounted for about 40% of the population. As for the population distribution, it was revealed that three-quarters of the population is concentrated in the three  governorates of Amman, Irbid and Zarqa, whereas about 8% of the population inhabit the governorates of southern Jordan covering about (51.2%) of the size of Jordan. It is noteworthy to mention that about 75% of the unemployed in Jordan are males, and 63.3% of whom have not completed  secondary education. 

The review showed  that Jordan is keen to allocate financial resources and provide the necessary human and technological capacities needed to integrate population issues into its planning. However, and as a result of the economic challenges Jordan encounters, more financial and technical support is needed in this area.  

Jordan has ratified many international treaties and conventions related to human rights, and  has adopted and developed many national policies, strategies and plans that are compatible with human rights principles and national, regional and international standards to promote various civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. Treaties and conventions that stand out here are: the National Strategy for Women (2020-2025); the Comprehensive National Plan for Human Rights (2016-2025); the Jordanian National Strategy for the Elderly (2018-2022); the Public Security Directorate Strategy for Gender Integration (2021-2024); The Jordanian national plan to activate Security Council Resolution No. 1325 - Women, Security and Peace 2018 – 202 and also for the second phase for the years (2022-2025). 


Moreover, Jordan has also initiated a set of strategies and policies to expand social protection programs, including the National Social Protection Strategy  (2019-2025), the Economic Modernization Vision 2033 and  its executive program for the years  (2022-2025). Furthermore, Jordan has introduced new programs such as maternity and unemployment insurance programs, and expanded the scope of coverage for beneficiaries of the social insurance system based on contributions and subscriptions.


New challenges  emerged  in the field of combating poverty and inequality including the following:  lack of management of foreign funding allocated to the social protection system; limited resources and the growing and significant demand for services of the social protection sector; new groups had access into the social protection system; dated and shortage of studies and data related to poverty,  especially with regard to the repercussions of the COVID crisis;  poor participation and early withdrawal of women from the labor market and high unemployment rates, especially among the young of both sexes.  


With regard to the most  outstanding achievements in the field of legislation and strategies related to youth, the review stated that the most prominent of them are the drawing up of the National Youth Strategy (2019-2025) and its subsequent executive plans; the establishment of the Royal Committee for the Modernization of the Political System from which the Youth Empowerment Committee emerged, and  the issuance of the Political Parties Law No.7 of 2022, which encourages the young to participate and engage in political parties. 


In the field of the rights of persons with disabilities and childhood, one of the most prominent achievements was the issuance of the Child Rights Law in 2022, which encompassed the rights of children with disabilities,  and the constitutional amendments in 2022 in accordance with the provisions of Article (6/5) thereof, which stipulated that "the law protects the rights of persons with disabilities and enhances their participation and integration in various aspects of life". Moreover, the rights of persons with disabilities was added in the National Strategy for Reproductive Health and Sex Education (2020-2030).


In the field of health, the most prominent achievements were the initiation and enactment of the maternal mortality record and drawing up of the Ministry of Health communication strategic plan in the field of family planning (2019-2023) as well as the  cost-effective implementation plan for family planning (2020-2024).  The preparation of treatment protocols was also completed along with a package of guidelines of sound and safe health care standards adopted in health centers. 


The review indicated that the most pressing issues in the field of population and development that need  reinforcement and support are: women's poor participation and their early withdrawal from the labor market; promoting  the reproductive health of youth and adolescents; youth unemployment, food  and water security and climate change; the repercussions of asylum on available resources and services; integrated reproductive and sexual health services and information  especially for young people; unbalanced geographical distribution of the population and finally, complete health coverage and complete health insurance. 


At the Arab  level,  the sixth review of the International Conference on Population and Development in the Arab Region showed the following: Ten Years after the 2013 Cairo Declaration showed the  progress made in the Arab region in the framework of the implementation of the recommendations of the  2013 Cairo Declaration-the regional framework for advancing the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. The report provides a quick look at the key indicators that embody the pillars of the 2013 Cairo Declaration and  highlights  the promising challenges and practices in the region across ten key themes of the   2013  Cairo Declaration: (population and development planning; dignity and equality; women; youth; older persons; persons with disabilities; health; migration; place and environmental sustainability; and regional and international cooperation).   


The report's findings show that despite progress in many areas, the impact of crises, including protracted conflicts and the COVID-19 pandemic, has compounded existing challenges and exacerbated multiple and intersecting inequalities. Consequently, more needs to be done to advance human rights, dignity, equality and justice for all in order to achieve the goals of the ICPD Programme of Action.   


 The conference concluded with a set of key policy recommendations and messages  based on priority areas and good practices focusing on the following:

  • mainstreaming a rights-based approach
  •  strengthening governance systems and investing in stakeholder partnerships
  •  increasing fiscal space for institutional capacity-building and developing effective policy frameworks, implementation mechanisms and cross-sectoral coordination  
  • strengthening data compilation and analysis and investing in research to support evidence-based policymaking
  • strengthening efforts to mainstream gender equality
  • strengthening, investing in and up scaling basic sexual and reproductive health services
  • adopting a life-wide approach
  • strengthening regional dialogue and cooperation to strengthen population and development programmes in the region and address cross-border challenges including forced displacement, climate change and absence of food security.