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Jordan joins the world in celebrating World Population Day
Jordan joins the world in celebrating World Population Day
Monday, 11 July 2022

Jordan joins the world today in celebrating World Population Day, which falls on July 11 of each year. The theme for this year is “A world of 8 Billion: Towards a resilient future for all - Harnessing opportunities and ensuring rights and choices for all”.

The World Population Day was established in 1989, following the observance of the day of Five Billion on July 11, 1987. The United Nations General Assembly decided to continue observing World Population Day to enhance awareness of population issues, including their relations to the environment and development.

In a press release issued on this occasion, the Higher Population Council wishes notes that according to UN estimates 83 million people are being added to the world’s population every year (mostly in developing countries). Even assuming that fertility levels will continue to decline, world population is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, and 9.8 billion in 2050, according to medium-variant projections. World population had been expected to reach about 8 billion in 2030, but that number was reached in 2022, so it would not take many years for world population to increase by an additional one billion.

The regionally launched 2022 State of the World Population Report by UNFPA, indicated that around half of the pregnancies worldwide (121million pregnancies) each year were unintended. For the women and girls affected, the reproductive choice—whether or not to become pregnant—is no choice at all. This requires action to address the neglected crisis of unintended pregnancies, as more than 60% of unintended pregnancies end in induced abortion. It is estimated that 45% of all abortions are unsafe, contributing to 5 to 13% of all maternal deaths, thereby having a major impact on the world’s ability to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. Wars, conflicts and crises around the world are expected to drive an increase in unintended pregnancies, as access to sexual and reproductive health services are disrupted and sexual violence increases. Globally, an estimated 257 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe, modern methods of contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

The UN HABITAT Report of 2020 indicated that rapid urban expansion has temporarily slowed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the population growth in urban areas worldwide went back on track towards an estimated 2.2 billion additional people by 2050, which requires governments and donors to adequately invest in urban development to build equitable, resilient, healthy and prosperous cities everywhere.

The Arab Strategy for Strategic Planning (2021-2025) revealed that new population policies are required to respond to the needs and population-related challenges of Arab states, including challenges related to population growth, demographic structure changes, reproductive health women, and youth, to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend while ensuring that national strategies of Arab countries integrate the ICPD programme of action, subsequent conferences, and the 2030 sustainable development agenda. The strategy also stated that the Arab region is witnessing a continuous population growth despite the declining pace, as the population change rate in the region far exceeds the global average, estimated at 1.9% annually in (2015-2020) compared to 1.1% globally.

Jordan is witnessing a demographic transition due to the continued decrease in the number of births - fertility rates - and a decrease mortality rates. Such factors have caused a shift in the population pyramid and led to a gradual change in the age structure towards a higher percentage of the working age population, especially the youth, a decline in dependency ratio, and an influx of large numbers of young people into the labor market. This transition will reach its peak in 2040 when the proportion of the working-age population rises to 67.7% and the dependency ratio decreases to about 48 dependents per 100 of the working age population, potentially offering Jordan a historic opportunity to invest in human capital enough to bring about economic and social development, by preparing well for this stage and undertaking reforms to match education and training policies to labor market needs. otherwise, this demographic shift will lead to undesirable social consequences.

According to future projections, the Jordanian population is expected to reach about 11 million in 2040 according to the high scenario, compared to about 9.5 million people according to the low scenario - the demographic window of opportunity scenario. In other words, the population, according to the low scenario, is about 1.5 million less compared to the high scenario. If the presence of non-Jordanians residing in Jordan continues in the coming years, Jordan's population will be even higher to reach about 15.7 million in 2040 according to the high scenario, and about 12.1 million in 2040 according to the low scenario.

Investing in the demographic window of opportunity in Jordan, in general, is faced by challenges as population growth rates are still high, at 2.4% in 2020, and the number of Jordanian births will not be less than 800,000 in the next five years. the demographic implications of the refugee crisis in Jordan, and the high population growth rates against economic growth rates are also among the challenges. According to economists, the economic growth rate needs to be three times higher than the population growth rate to create the jobs needed for new entrants to the labour market. Moreover, there has been a slowdown in remittances of Jordanians working abroad, and such remittances hardly translate into investments in Jordan. On the other hand, large transfers of hard currency are made by expatriates in Jordan to their own countries, The uneven distribution of the population across governorates and regions of the Kingdom, also poses a challenge, as only 8% of Jordan’s population live in the four southern governorates that represent half of the total surface area of the kingdom. In addition, women’s economic participation rate is low, reaching 13.8% in 2021, and unemployment rates at 18.7% for males and 26.2% for females in 2021.

While the Higher Population Council attaches great importance to these issues in its programs, national efforts need to be better coordinated and strengthened in the coming years to reach aspirations, reproductive health service legislation and programs need to be reviewed to support the demographic transition and realize the demographic window of opportunity, and national policies and strategies that guarantee the equitable participation of women in all fields and facilitate their access to all services should be implemented. HPC, in partnership with the relevant stakeholders, has developed the National Population Strategy (2021-2030) to support policies aimed at reaching the peak of the demographic window of opportunity and reaping its benefits to enhance the wellbeing of families.

To monitor progress towards realizing and investing in the demographic transition in Jordan, HPC relies on a matrix of indicators derived from the National Plan for Monitoring Progress in Implementing the Demographic Window of Opportunity Policies. According to periodic reports, the pace of investing in and benefiting from the demographic window of opportunity is rather slow, long-term targets for each policy indicator need to be identified based on population projections derived from the demographic window of opportunity scenario, key issues pertaining to health and reproductive health should be addressed to attain the desired fertility rate, and education outputs should be better aligned with labour market needs.

Improving the quality of education at various educational levels should be given greater focus, and challenges must be addressed, including those related to job creation in the formal and informal sectors, the limited funding sources and mechanisms to support small, medium and micro entrepreneurship, low interest among Jordanians in vocational and technical professions, and the low participation rate of women in the labor market. According to the 2021 Global Gender Gap Report, Jordan ranked 133 out of 156 countries in with respect to economic participation of women.

In addition to the challenges and risks triggered by instability and current political turmoil in the Middle East, and the subsequent negative impact on the investment climate and the size of Arab and foreign investments in Jordan in the short and medium terms, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about additional negative economic and social impacts on all sectors, affecting the implementation of demographic dividend policies.

Further to this press release, the HPC secretariate, in collaboration with UNFPA, will implement a lineup of activities that include launching the national plan for implementing the Nairobi Summit commitments to action, interactive theatre play for youth tackling the World Population Day’s theme, four promotional videos on the National Population Strategy, a seminar to present and discuss a factsheet on older persons and reproductive health and another factsheet on media and reproductive health.