International Conference on Fertility Transition and Social Policy Responses held in Beijing to explore policy options for sustainable development

4 December 2017

In order to promote sustainable development in the era of fertility transition and to explore fertility friendly social policy options, the International Conference on Population Dynamics in Sustainable Development Era: Fertility Transition and Social Policy Responses was held in Beijing on December 4-5 2017.

The conference was co-organized by the China Population Association (CPA), Center for Population and Development Studies at the Renmin University of China and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) China Office. Over 150 leading experts and government officials attended the meeting, including experts from the United States, the UK, Netherland, Czech Republic, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and relevant international organizations, as well as national research institutions, universities and relevant government sectors.

Mr. Wang Pei’an, Vice Minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, delivered an opening speech at the conference. He pointed out that it is opportune to discuss population matters with the perspective from sustainable development to explore policy options responding to fertility transition. He emphasized the importance of population dynamics with regard to economic and social development.

Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, the UNFPA Representative in China, pointed out that demographic transitions are inevitable outcomes of progress in development, and should not be seen as a threat. He emphasized that fertility is much more than a single input number to population estimates. It is the outcome of thousands and millions of individual decisions placed in specific socio-economic contexts. To empower women and men to decide whether and when to have children in line with the principles of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD PoA) therefore is the key to address the fertility transition.

Mr. Zhai Zhenwu, the President of CPA, reviewed the changes in fertility and policy responses in China. He pointed out that China has entered a new phase of population dynamics, which requires a new set of policy options to address challenges associated with fertility transition, based on theoretical research on fertility and practices from other countries.

Professor Du Peng, the Vice President of RUC, shared the rich results achieved in demographic research by the Population and Development Research Center of the RUC. He expressed that RUC will remain committed to strengthen research capacity in this field.

At the conference, participants held extensive discussions around important topics, including factors influencing fertility transition, consequences of low fertility, effects of changing fertility policies and population ageing. The conference served as a knowledge sharing platform and generated rich references for improving policy responses and research in the field of population dynamics and fertility transition in China.  

It was noted that many factors influence the decisions of women and men about the number, timing and spacing of children. Unrestricted access to sexual and reproductive health information and services empowers women and men to take these decisions. If countries have the desire to lift the fertility levels, they shall be done through policies and measures that empower women and men to make their own decisions.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),  as the global lead for population and development issues, expressed its commitment to continue working with multi-stakeholders, including governments, development partners, academic institutions, scholars and policy makers to promote evidence based policy making,  broker knowledge and experience sharing among countries; and to facilitate global, regional and inter-country cooperation to address low fertility and ageing through right based, gender sensitive, context specific and comprehensive policy responses.