Urban growth must be sustainable in Pacific island nations, say MPs

The challenges of urbanisation are just as pressing in the smaller Pacific island nations as in the Asia-Pacific?s megacities, according to local parliamentarians.

?All countries must anticipate and plan for urban growth,? said Ramon San Pascual, executive director of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development. (AFPPD)

?Asia-Pacific nations need to ensure that the growing number of urban residents, including the poor, have secure access to land, housing, water, sanitation, energy and transport, as well as health, education and other essential services.?

The AFPPD and the UN Population Fund are meeting with Pacific region Prime Ministers, Ministers and MPs in Fiji this week to advocate for human-rights and evidence-based population and development policies as nations formulate their positions for the Sixth Asian Pacific Population Conference in Bangkok in September.

Kiribati MP and AFPPD member Martin Tofinga, said that his small nation understood the importance of strong family planning policies and meeting the needs of urbanisation.

?My electorate of just 1.59sqkms is home to 20,000 people ? urbanisation is real in the Pacific where outer-island people are moving to the main islands for jobs and services,? said Mr Tofinga, who will be representing Kiribati at the Fiji meeting.

Parliamentarians from across Asia and the Pacific have created a joint statement of recommendations on priority issues that they argue must be included in the outcome document of the Sixth APPC.

?Since 1994, AFPPD has fostered parliamentarians adopting legislation and policies to achieve the full ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development) agenda,? said Mr San Pascual.

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