The countries of Southeast Europe are facing the fastest population decline in the world with Bosnian having the lowest birth rate in Europe, participants of a UN's conference on the demographic change taking place in Sarajevo on Monday and Tuesday.
Bosnia's Civil Affairs Minister Adil Osmanovic said at the conference that Bosnia is also facing a negative migration trend with youth leaving the country for western countries and that the conference is an opportunity to offer solutions and provide answers to new challenges.
Alanna Armitage, director of the United Nations Population Fund for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (UNFPA), said that there have been dramatic changes in the demographic trends in the region.
"Fewer people are choosing to have more children or children in general. We have to say that the birth rate in Bosnia is the lowest in Europe, and our figures show that there are 1.3 children per woman. Also, we have a big problem with youth choosing to seek opportunities in other countries. Fewer children and more migration mean that the population in Southeast Europe is getting smaller and older,” Armitage said.
She added that understanding of this issue could address some of the causes of the negative demographic change, but that there is no single solution.
"The solution is to create countries where people want to live. To create positive environments. To create a society where youth can fulfil their ambitions and build the future they want," Armitage said.
She noted that the UN Population Fund will offer its knowledge, experience and people to help countries in the region turn a negative trend into positive opportunities.
The conference, titled "Population Dynamics, Human Capital and Sustainable Development in Southeast Europe", is organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in cooperation with Bosnia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Regional Cooperation Council and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.