‘Family: The Key to Sustainability’ – that was the concept around which Hungary organized the biannual Budapest Demographic Summit for the fourth time, where politicians, experts, religious and civic leaders, economic and media actors, as well as representatives of the academic world, corporate sector and science came together to discuss the main issues affecting families. This year’s summit focused on the connections between demographics and sustainability.
The conference featured speeches by former US vice president Mike Pence, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán, Slovenian prime minister Janez Jansa, Czech PM Andrej Babis, and the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic among others.
Regarding the future of Europe, the conference’s concept outlined the main challenges: ‘In the Western world, there are not enough children born, society is aging that threatens with the disappearance of nations on the long run. In the fight for sustainability, for our planet, we will reach the point where there will be no one to preserve it. In other parts of the world, it is the explosive, continuous population growth that poses the challenge to the various care systems and everyday life.’
Europe has entered an era of decline, and if we do not protect the integrity of our families, there will be nothing left to prevent the state from collapsing
Marion Maréchal, the president of the Institut des Sciences Sociales, économiques et politiques in Lyon says that politics in the West does not deal with the issue of a family because it exiles it to the private sphere. Supporting families is a rewarding investment for society, however, a paradigm shift is needed to make this essential investment a reality –, stressed Maréchal. Former US Vice President Mike Pence, in his address, emphasized the importance of family values: ‘For our civilization to prosper, if we are to pass on the rights, the freedoms and the values that we cherish to the next generation, our highest priority must be to preserve, renew and strengthen the families upon which our nation and our civilizations have been built.’ Pence said Hungary and other countries in the region had shown that the right leadership and the right solutions could succeed in reversing population decline.
‘There is no alternative to the family. Common thinking and action are needed. There is no sustainable development without having children. The biggest problem in the Western world is that not enough children are born, even though there is no sustainable development without having children. We have to stand up for traditional values and to make decisions that support families’ –, emphasized Katalin Novák, minister without portfolio in charge of family affairs, in her closing remarks of the conference. She also declared that the Hungarian government is committed to a solid and consistent family-centered government policy.
At the end of the conference, a declaration was signed by the heads of governments and the ministers agreed to turn the inspiring ideas into further actions.
Lidia Papp, Danube Institute research fellow