3.1. The everyday activities of all human beings, communities and countries are interrelated with population change, patterns and levels of use of natural resources, the state of the environment, and the pace and quality of economic and social development. There is general agreement that persistent widespread poverty as well as serious social and gender inequities have significant influences on, and are in turn influenced by, demographic parameters such as population growth, structure and distribution. There is also general agreement that unsustainable consumption and production patterns are contributing to the unsustainable use of natural resources and environmental degradation as well as to the reinforcement of social inequities and of poverty with the above- mentioned consequences for demographic parameters. The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and Agenda 21, adopted by the international community at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, call for patterns of development that reflect the new understanding of these and other intersectoral linkages. Recognizing the longer-term realities and implications of current actions, the development challenge is to meet the needs of present generations and improve their quality of life without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
3.2. Despite recent declines in birth rates in many countries, further large increases in population size are inevitable. Owing to the youthful age structure, for numerous countries the coming decades will bring substantial population increases in absolute numbers. Population movements within and between countries, including the very rapid growth of cities and the unbalanced regional distribution of population, will continue and increase in the future.
3.3. Sustainable development implies, inter alia, long-term sustainability in production and consumption relating to all economic activities including industry, energy, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, transport, tourism and infrastructure in order to optimize ecologically sound resource use and minimize waste. Macroeconomic and sectoral policies have, however, rarely given due attention to population considerations. Explicitly integrating population into economic and development strategies will both speed up the pace of sustainable development and poverty alleviation and contribute to the achievement of population objectives and an improved quality of life of the population.
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