The next hundred years.
In a UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) sponsored forum in March 1982 the importance of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in population work was reaffirmed. According to Rafael M Salas, Executive Director of UNFPA, NGOs will help decide the shape of population programs over the next century. The international conference on population which is to be held in 1984 will devote considerable attention to NGO views and special submissions may be requested. The 1984 conference will mark the 10th anniversary of the World Population Conference held in Bucharest. The conference is expected to review the World Population Plan of Action adopted at Bucharest and assess policies and programs in its light. The Plan may be modified to take account of the considerable progress made in the intervening decade and of future needs. Population policies and programs would remain a matter for national decision. Population growth remains a problem. Over 80% of the developing world's population live in countries whose policy is to lower birthrates. Population distribution and the growth of cities also are emerging as prime concerns. There has been no increase in the level of population assistance for the last 5 years despite growing unmet needs. UNFPA can respond to only half the requests made, even though the level of requests is kept down by the knowledge that resources are limited. As developing countries' interest has grown, they have been committing more and more resources to population programs so that aid now accounted for only about 15% of what was spent on population work. NGOs have a tradition of innovation according to Salas and can frequently work in areas where government is not yet involved. They are typically in close touch with the community so that they are aware of local and group sensitivities. They can show what approach will be most effective for a given group. In these ways, NGOs could be particularly valuable to governments and to organizations like UNFPA, redefining population issues so that they may be both understood and approached in the same way by all concerned.