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UNFPA launched the State of World Population 2014 in China

2014-11-25 16:14 China.org.cn Web Editor: Gu Liping
Arie Hoekman, United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) representative to China, delivers a speech on the national launch event of a UNPFA report in Beijing on Monday. [China.org.cn/Zhang Lulu]

Arie Hoekman, United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) representative to China, delivers a speech on the national launch event of a UNPFA report in Beijing on Monday. [China.org.cn/Zhang Lulu]

Developing countries with large youth populations could see their economies soar, provided they invest heavily in young people's education and health and protect their rights, according to The State of World Population 2014 (SWOP) titled the Power of 1.8 Billon: Adolescents, Youth and the Transformation of the Future, newly published by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

To call for greater investment in young people in China, UNFPA China organized a national launch event in Beijing jointly with its partner Guokr.com, a leading internet company dedicated to promote innovations led by the young people. The event was convened as a platform to put a spotlight on the issues facing young people through sharing the global findings from 2014 (SWOP), in-depth analysis of the population trends in China and their implications to the Chinese young people, and findings of substantive research and observations of a new generation of young people. Following the launch, the Youth Innovation Forum provided an opportunity for young people to demonstrate their capacity to transform the future with real examples of innovations.

"Today's record 1.8 billion young people present an enormous opportunity to transform the future," says Mr. Arie Hoekman, UNFPA representative to China. "Young people are the innovators, creators, builders and leaders of the future. But they can only transform the future if they are of good health and possess the required skills for making decisions when it comes to real choices in life," he adds.

While the SWOP 2014 mainly focuses on maximizing "demographic dividend" that can potentially propel economic development, countries that have already benefited from this demographic dividend also need to address the unmet needs of young people and make them the center of the development.

Currently there are nearly 278 million young people aged 10-24, the largest cohort of its kind in the history of China. In the meantime, China also has a very small family size of 3.02 persons on average. With a very low fertility rate already in place over two decades and a concomitant rapid ageing process, China is now going to see a diminishing demographic dividend. "It is critical to ensure this generation of young people to be healthy and resilient. Today's young people matter for now and for the future," Mr. Arie Hoekman pointed out.

Mr. Huang Wenzheng, a columnist on demographics and a researcher on the population dynamics in China, shared his observations on the population trends in China. Analyzing the impact of population dynamics on the future generations, he noted that with reduced number of women at reproductive age and a low fertility rate, the number of young people in China will continue to decrease sharply.

Prof. Lian Si, Director of the Youth Development Research Center of the University of International Business and Economics, is a well-known young scholar dedicated to youth-focused research in China since the first inception of his famous "The Ant Tribe" research on young migrants in China. Based on his observations and data from China Youth Development Report he authored, Mr. Lian shared his analysis of "the new young generation of China" experiencing drastic societal changes in China coupled by migration, urbanization, technological advancements and globalization.

Adolescents and young people are at the center in the quest of sustainable development. Participation is a right of young people in matters concerning themselves. It is also a means to achieve youth-related goals. Young people's voices and actions are strong driving forces to support effective policy-making and improvement of information and service provision to respond to the emerging challenges. The Youth Innovation Forum was a platform for young people to stand out to demonstrate the youth power that can be triggered through innovative approaches.

Ms. Liu Yang, the Education Director of Guokr.com, spoke with passion about the profound and far-reaching impact of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) on young people around the world. To expand the accessibility of MOOC among the Chinese-speaking users, Guokr, China's most popular and trusted online community promoting scientific knowledge among young people, established MOOC Academy to support Chinese learners. In its 1.5-year history, the MOOC Academy has attracted 650,000 users, covering 60% of Chinese MOOCers.

In order to promote cutting-edge knowledge in the areas of population and development, health including sexual and reproductive health, and gender equality, UNFPA and Guokr set up a UNFPA MOOC Scholarship Programme to promote relevant courses to potential MOOC learners. More importantly, the Scholarship encourages learners to retransmit essence of their learning to other young people through innovative means. Using social media, the UNFPA MOOC Scholarship topic has received 140 million hits since its launch in July. At the event, two scholarship winners shared the successful products they have created based on their MOOC experiences.

Sexual and reproductive health is at the heart of young people's transition into adulthood. With inadequate provision of comprehensive sexuality education in schools, alternative innovations play a critical role in filing the gaps. Mr. Zou Bo shared the rationale behind the immensely successful one-minute sexuality education video series which have been seen by nearly 60 million viewers. "Making sexuality education fun is the key to success," said Mr. Zou Bo, the team leader of the popular sexuality education video series.

Representatives from China Youth Network (CYN), a youth-led student group supported by UNFPA and China Family Planning Association, shared their experiences volunteering with CYN to promote sexual and reproductive health among university students and migrant workers.

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