UN Development Agencies see Human Population as “Hindrance” to Advancement: Vatican Spokesman

By Hilary White

NEW YORK, April 3, 2009 ( - A Vatican spokesman told the UN on Wednesday that viewing population growth as a "hindrance" to social and economic development is a costly mistake, and one that is redirecting the work of the UN away from actually helping the poor.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the head of the Vatican’s mission to the United Nations, said that the preparatory documents for the latest session of the Commission on Population and Development, give the "impression" that the Commission is "giving priority to population control and getting the poor to accept these arrangements rather than primarily focusing upon its commitments to addressing education, basic health care, access to water, sanitation and employment."

Archbishop Migliore pointed out that despite dire projections fifteen years ago that human populations would outstrip resources, the actual numbers have shown a slow-down in population growth and at the same time, an increase in food production around the world. "Food production continues to rise to the point where it is capable of supporting a larger global population and is even being diverted to the production of fuel," he said.

Compared to the aging and shrinking populations of western Europe and North America, Africa has enjoyed a number of economic advantages with its higher birth rates, he said. 

More young people in Africa, he said, has meant "lowering the elderly dependency ratio" and keeping up a strong workforce, which has provided the continent with "an unprecedented advantage in economic terms over regions whose ageing populations show growing economic challenges."

Migliore stressed that the aims of the United Nations development organisations should be to foster education, economic opportunity, political stability and basic health care. Primarily, the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved through support for the family and increasing "responsible parenthood".

See full text of Archbishop Migliore’s remarks:

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