B. Population information, education and communication

Basis for action

11.11. Greater public knowledge, understanding and commitment at all levels, from the individual to the international, are vital to the achievement of the goals and objectives of the present Programme of Action. In all countries and among all groups, therefore, information, education and communication activities concerning population and sustainable development issues must be strengthened. This includes the establishment of gender- and culturally sensitive information, education and communication plans and strategies related to population and development. At the national level, more adequate and appropriate information enables planners and policy makers to make more appropriate plans and decisions in relation to population and sustainable development. At the most basic level, more adequate and appropriate information is conducive to informed, responsible decision-making concerning health, sexual and reproductive behaviour, family life, and patterns of production and consumption. In addition, more and better information about the causes and benefits of migration can create a more positive environment for societies to address and respond to migration challenges.

11.12. Effective information, education and communication are prerequisites for sustainable human development and pave the way for attitudinal and behavioural change. Indeed, this begins with the recognition that decisions must be made freely, responsibly and in an informed manner, on the number and spacing of children and in all other aspects of daily life, including sexual and reproductive behaviour. Greater public knowledge and commitment in a democratic setting create a climate conducive to responsible and informed decisions and behaviour. Most importantly, they also pave the way for democratic public discussion and thereby make possible strong political commitment and popular support for needed action at the local, national and international levels.

11.13. Effective information, education and communication activities include a range of communication channels, from the most intimate levels of interpersonal communication to formal school curricula, from traditional folk arts to modern mass entertainment, and from seminars for local community leaders to coverage of global issues by the national and international news media. Multichannel approaches are usually more effective than any single communication channel. All these channels of communication have an important role to play in promoting an understanding of the interrelationships between population and sustainable development. Schools and religious institutions, taking into account their values and teachings, may be important vehicles in all countries for instilling gender and racial sensitivity, respect, tolerance and equity, family responsibility and other important attitudes at all ages. Effective networks also exist in many countries for non-formal education on population and sustainable development issues through the workplace, health facilities, trade unions, community centres, youth groups, religious institutions, women's organizations and other non-governmental organizations. Such issues may also be included in more structured adult education, vocational training and literacy programmes, particularly for women. These networks are critical to reaching the entire population, especially men, adolescents and young couples. Parliamentarians, teachers, religious and other community leaders, traditional healers, health professionals, parents and older relatives are influential in forming public opinion and should be consulted during the preparation of information, education and communication activities. The media also offer many potentially powerful role models.

11.14. Current information, education and communication technologies such as global interlinked telephone, television and data transmission networks, compact discs and new multimedia technologies can help bridge the geographical, social and economic gaps that currently exist in access to information around the world. They can help ensure that the vast majority of the world's people are involved in debates at the local, national and global levels about demographic changes and sustainable human development, economic and social inequities, the importance of empowering women reproductive health and family planning, health promotion, ageing populations, rapid urbanization and migration. Greater public involvement of national authorities and the community ensure the widespread diffusion of such technologies and the freer flow of information within and between countries. It is essential that parliaments have full access to the information necessary for decision-making.

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