HELSINKI – As the world nears a population of 7 billion inhabitants, a Finnish parliamentary seminar on population and development highlighted the many opportunities and challenges this milestone brings.
The event, organized by the Finnish All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population and Development together with Väestölliitto, the Finnish Family Planning Association, brought attention to a wide range of issues related to population dynamics, including reproductive health and rights, family planning and the environment.
“Finland is a strong supporter of our mandate and of the work of UNFPA,” said Pernille Fenger, Chief of UNFPA Nordic Office. “This event provided an excellent opportunity to share views on these issues with our Finnish partners.”
Ms. Fenger addressed an audience of Finnish civil servants, parliamentarians, and NGOs, including the Finnish UN Association, focusing on the importance of involving and meeting the needs of young people in a world that now has its largest youth generation ever.
“When young people can claim their right to health, education and decent working conditions, they become a powerful force for economic development and positive change,” she said. “Investing in adolescent girls is one of the smartest investments a country can make.”
She stressed the importance of investing in young people’s reproductive health.
“Young people, the world’s future, too often know little or nothing about their own bodies,” she said. “They do not receive information and youth-friendly reproductive health services. We need, to an even greater extent, get the issue of reproductive health, including supplies, mainstreamed into national health plans and budgets.”
Other key speakers included Anne Sipiläinen, Under-Secretary of State from the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who spoke about population and sexual and reproductive health as part of Finnish development policy, while Oras Tynkkynen, a Member of Parliament, spoke about population and the environment.
The event was opened by Jani Toivola, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population and Development, and closed by Hellevi Hatunen from Väestöliitto, the Finnish Family Planning Association.
The seminar was one of the first events organized by the Finnish All-Party parliamentary group since the Finnish elections in April 2011.