ECSP was at London’s 2012 Planet Under Pressure conference following all of the most pertinent population, health, and security events.
At a panel on “climate compatible development” at this year’s Planet Under Pressure
global change conference, Population Action International’s
Roger-Mark De Souza was the lone voice to speak about demographics. He presented a detailed analysis of population trends, based on collaboration with the Kenya-based African Institute for Development Policy
“The link between population dynamics and sustainable development is strong and inseparable – as is the link between population dynamics, reproductive health, and gender equality,” said De Souza. These linkages were emphasized by the UN at the International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in 1994, as well as during the original Rio Conference on Environment and Development in 1992.
“Climate compatible development” is a novel development paradigm being developed by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network and defined as “development that minimizes the harm caused by climate impacts, while maximizing the many human development opportunities presented by a low emissions more resilient future.”
The key tenet of this development framework is an emphasis on climate strategies that embrace development goals and integrate opportunities alongside the threats of a changing climate. In this respect, climate compatible development is seen as moving beyond the traditional separation of adaptation, mitigation, and development strategies. It challenges policymakers to consider “triple win” strategies that result in lower emissions, better resilience, and development – simultaneously.
Although developed nations are historically the major contributors of greenhouse gases due to comparatively high levels of consumption, developing countries are the most vulnerable to consequences of climate change. Emerging evidence shows that rapid population growth in developing countries exacerbates this vulnerability and undermines resilience to the effects of climate change, said De Souza. Socioeconomic improvement will also increase the levels of consumption and emissions from developing countries.
“Meeting women and their partners’ needs for family planning can yield the ‘triple win’ strategy envisaged in the climate development framework,” De Souza said. “Meeting unmet family planning needs would help build resilience and strengthen household and community resilience to climate change; slow the growth of greenhouse gases; and enhance development outcomes by improving and expanding health, schooling, and economic opportunities.”
Decision makers engaged in climate change policy planning and implementation at local, national, and international levels should have access to evidence on population trends and their implications on efforts to adapt to climate change as well as the overall development process, De Souza said.
He presented new maps and analysis for Africa, particularly Malawi and Kenya, developed by PAI, building on earlier mapping work which identified 26 global population and climate change hotspots – countries that are experiencing rapid population growth, low resilience to climate change, and high projected declines in agricultural production.
“PAI’s work is a clear demonstration of how better decision making can be informed by the right analysis, in the right format, at the right time,” said Natasha Grist, head of research at the Climate Knowledge and Development Network.
“Most of the hotspot countries have high levels of fertility partly because of the inability of women and their partners to access and use contraception,” said De Souza. He continued:
Investing in voluntary health programs that meet family planning needs could, therefore, slow population growth and reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts. This is especially important because women, especially those who live in poverty, are likely to be most affected by the negative effects of climate change and also bear the disproportionate burden of having unplanned children due to lack of contraception.In conclusion, said De Souza, “global institutions and frameworks that support and promote climate compatible development can enhance the impact of their work by recognizing and incorporating population dynamics and reproductive health in their adaptation and development strategies.”
For full population-related coverage from the conference, see our “Planet 2012 tag.” Pictures from the event are available on our Facebook and Flickr pages, and you can join the conversation on Twitter (#Planet2012).
Sources: Climate and Development Knowledge Network, IPCC, Population Action International.
Photo Credit: Sean Peoples/Wilson Center; Maps: Population Action International.