“Population and Environment Connections,” was an input paper for the Council on Foreign Relations report, Family Planning and U.S. Foreign Policy: Ensuring U.S. Leadership for Healthy Families and Communities and Prosperous, Stable Societies
Current global population growth rates are not environmentally sustainable and the increasing demands of a growing global population are increasingly straining supplies of food, energy, and water. The expected consequences of climate change will stress resources further. Population growth dynamics compound challenges presented by increased resource consumption
from a rising global middle class, making the world’s population, and the quality and quantity of natural resources, top priorities for governments and the public alike.
Governments and multilateral organizations must recognize the relationship between resource demand, resource supply, and resource degradation across disparate economic and environmental sectors. Formulating appropriate and effective responses to growth-induced resource complications requires both a nuanced understanding of the problem and the use of innovative approaches to decrease finite resource consumption.
Family planning and integrated population, health, and environment (PHE) approaches offer opportunities to address such concerns. These efforts recognize the importance of population-environment linkages at the macro-level. They also operate at the household, community, and state levels, empowering individuals and decreasing community vulnerability by building resilience in a wider sustainable development context. PHE approaches embrace the complex interactions of population, consumption, and resource use patterns. To paraphrase Brian O’Neill, a leading scholar on population-climate connections, PHE approaches offer a way forward that is neither a silver bullet nor a red herring. Addressing population-environment links is an essential step to tackling global sustainability crises.
Download “Population and Environment Connections” from the Council on Foreign Relations.