Chapter IX: Population distribution, urbanization and internal migration - A. Population distribution and sustainable development
Basis for action
9.1. In the early 1990s, approximately half of the Governments inthe world,
mostly those of developing countries, considered the patterns of population distribution
in their territories to be unsatisfactory and wished to modify them. A key issue
was the rapid growth of urban areas, which are expected to house more thanhalf
of the world population by 2005. Consequently, attention hasmostly been paid
to rural-urban migration, although rural-rural and urban- urban migration are
in fact the dominant forms of spatial mobility in many countries. The process
of urbanization is an intrinsic dimension of economic and social development
and, inconsequence, both developed and developing countries are going through
the process of shifting from predominantly rural to predominantly urban societies.
For individuals, migration is often a rational and dynamic effort to seek new
opportunities in life. Cities are centres of economic growth, providing the
impetus for socio-economic innovation and change. However, migration is also prompted
by push factors, such as inequitable allocation of development resources, adoption
of inappropriate technologies and lack of access to available land. The alarming
consequences of urbanization visible in many countries are related to its rapid pace,
to which Governments have been unable to respond with their current management
capacities and practices. Even in developing countries, however, there are already
signs of a changing pattern of population distribution, in the sense that the
trend towards concentration in a few large cities is giving way to a more widespread
distribution in medium-sized urban centres. This movement is also found in some
developed countries, with people indicating preference for living in smaller
places. Effective population distribution policies are those that, while respecting the
right of individuals to live and work in the community of their choice, take
into account the effects of development strategies on population distribution.
Urbanization has profound implications for the livelihood, way of life and values
of individuals. At the same time, migration has economic, social and environmental implications
- both positive and negative - for the places of origin and destination.
9.2. The objectives are:
- To foster a more balanced spatial distribution of the population by promoting
in an integrated manner the equitable and ecologically sustainable development
of major sending and receivingareas, with particular emphasis on the promotion
of economic, social and gender equity based on respect for human rights, especially
the right to development;
- To reduce the role of the various push factors as they relate to migration
9.3. Governments formulating population distribution policies should ensure
that the objectives and goals of those policies are consistent with other development
goals, policies and basic human rights. Governments, assisted by interested local,
regional and intergovernmental agencies, should assess on a regular basis how the
consequences of their economic and environmental policies, sectoral priorities,
infrastructure investment and balance of resources among regional, central, provincial
and local authorities influence population distribution and internal migration,
both permanent and temporary.
9.4. In order to achieve a balanced spatial distribution of production employment
and population, countries should adopt sustainable regional development strategies
and strategies for the encouragement of urban consolidation, the growth of small
or medium-sized urban centres and the sustainable development of ruralareas,
including the adoption of labour- intensive projects, training for non-farming
jobs for youth and effective transport and communication systems. To create an
enabling context for local development, including the provision of services,
Governments should consider decentralizing their administrative systems. This also
involves giving responsibility for expenditure and the right to raise revenue
to regional, district and local authorities. While vast improvements to the
urban infrastructure and environmental strategies are essential in many developing
countries to provide a healthy environment for urban residents, similar activities
should also be pursued in rural areas.
9.5. To reduce urban bias and isolated rural development, Governments should
examine the feasibility of providing incentives to encourage the redistribution
and relocation of industries and businesses from urban to rural areas and to
encourage the establishment of new businesses, industrial units and income-generating
projects in rural areas.
9.6. Governments wishing to create alternatives to out-migration from rural
areas should establish the preconditions for development in rural areas, actively
support access to ownership or use of land and access to water resources, especially
for family units, make and encourage investments to enhance rural productivity,
improve rural infrastructure and social services and facilitate the establishment
of credit, production and marketing cooperatives and other grass-roots organizations
that give people greater control over resources and improve their livelihoods.
Particular attentionis needed to ensure that these opportunities are also made available
to migrants' families remaining in the areas of origin.
9.7. Governments should pursue development strategies offering tangible benefits
to investors in rural areas and to rural producers. Governments should also seek
to reduce restrictions on international trade in agricultural products.
9.8. Governments should strengthen their capacities to respond tothe pressures
caused by rapid urbanization by revising and reorienting the agencies and mechanisms
for urban management as necessary and ensuring the wide participation of all
population groups in planning and decision-making on local development. Particular
attention should be paid to land management in order to ensure economical land
use, protect fragile ecosystems and facilitate the access of the poor to land
in both urban and rural areas.
9.9. Countries are urged to recognize that the lands of indigenous people and
their communities should be protected from activities that are environmentally
unsound or that the indigenous people concerned consider to be socially and culturally
inappropriate. The term "lands" is understood to include the environment
of the areas which the people concerned traditionally occupy.
9.10. Countries should increase information and training on conservation practices
and foster the creation of sustainable off-farm rural employment opportunities
in order to limit the further expansion of human settlements to areas with fragile ecosystems.
9.11. Population distribution policies should be consistent with such international
instruments, when applicable, as the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection
of Civilian Persons in Timeof War (1949), including article 49.