- 1976-1993 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
“Large-scale attention to population questions by the United Nations system dates from the mid-1960s when the attention of the international community was aroused by high population growth projections, with Member States beginning to be increasingly concerned with the interrelations of demographic factors and socio-economic development” (UNESCO, 19 C/4 Approved, 1978, para. 8109). UNESCO’s General Conference first resolution on a population programme dates from the 15th Session in 1968. The overall purpose of the Programme was to improve knowledge and to increase awareness of the causes and consequences of population change, of their interrelations with other aspects of social, cultural and environmental change, and of their implications for human rights and the quality of life (UNESCO, 19 C/4 Approved, 1978).
In 1973, a Population Co-ordination and Research Unit was created in the Department of Social Sciences in the Social Sciences, Humanities and Culture Sector. The Unit was responsible for the overall co-ordination and development of the intersectoral programme in population, and for co-ordination with other agencies and organizations of the United Nations system, as well as with non-governmental organizations, in matters concerning the programme. This change took place in the lead-up to the World Population Year and the World Population Conference in 1974. Population programming had previously been concentrated in the Population and Family Planning Section, Division of Curriculum and Research in the Education Sector, but population activities were also carried out by the Natural Sciences Sector and the Department of Social Sciences.
The Unit became a Division in 1974 and was originally placed directly under the Office of the Director-General in the Draft Programme and Budget for 1974-1975. It was moved to the Department of Social Sciences in the Approved Programme and Budget. The following year the Secretariat as a whole was reorganized, and the Sector for Social Sciences, Humanities and Culture was dissolved and in its place a Sector for Social Sciences and their Applications and a Sector for Culture and Communication were created. The Population Division remained in the Sector for Social Sciences and their Applications. The Medium-Term Plan for 1977-1982 further confirmed ‘Population’ as one of ten world problems which UNESCO would seek to address through its work.
The Division’s structure remained stable for most of the 1980s, though in 1984 the sector’s name was changed to the Sector of Social and Human Sciences. The Director of Division was also given the title Coordinator for Population Programmes with overall responsibility for coordinating activities financed by UNFPA in all programme sectors. In the 1988-1989 Programme and Budget, the Division absorbed activities on the human environment and was renamed the Division of Population and Human Settlements (SHS/POP). The role of Coordinator for Population Programmes was introduced starting January 1, 1989. Initially the Coordinator was also Director of SHS/POP, but an Office of the Coordinator for Population Programmes existed concurrently with the new Division for Population, Human Settlements and Development Studies (SHS/PHD) from 1993 to 1994. In 1994, the Social and Human Sciences Sector was reorganized and some activities of SHS/PHD were inherited by a new Division of Social Science, Research and Policy (SHS/SRP). That year a transdisciplinary project on “environmental and population education and information for development” was launched. In the Approved Budget and Programme for 1996 and 1997, the transdisciplinary project existed as a separate unit reporting directly to the Office of the Director-General. The following biennium the Project was renamed Educating for a Sustainable Future (environment, population, development). In the Approved Programme and Budget for 2000-2001, the unit was moved to the Education Sector and became the Division for Educating for a Sustainable Future (ED/EPD). However, this move was soon revised in July 2000 when the Secretariat as a whole was restructured. Education on population issues fell under health, foresight and sustainable development programming from this point forward in lead up and following the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and the Decade for Education for Sustainable Development, 2005-2014. Social science research on population-related issues fell under the responsibility of successive units responsible for social science research in general.
The Population Division and its immediate predecessor and successors had the following heads: Alexander Graham (1974-1983); Ferdinand Rath, Director (1983-1984), Director and Coordinator for Population Programmes (1984-1988); Raul Urzua, Director (1988-1990), Director and Coordinator for Population Programmes (1990-1993); and, Wolfgang Tochtermann (1994).