Roger-Mark De Souza, Climate and Development Knowledge Network
Population-Climate Dynamics: From Planet Under Pressure to RioMay 11, 2012 By Wilson Center Stafforiginal version of this article, by Roger-Mark De Souza, appeared on the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN).
In late May, I presented research on population and climate dynamics in hotspots at the Planet Under Pressure conference in London, in a session organized by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network. As we prepare for the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June, I reflect on the roles of population dynamics and climate-compatible development for ensuring a future where we can increase the resilience of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
- Improving our well-being and the future we can have is within our reach: We can take action to improve well-being through specific actions that can produce short term results. This is a key message encapsulated in the concept of climate-compatible development, reflected in many presentations and discussions that I heard at Planet Under Pressure. Even though others were not calling it “climate-compatible development,” the essence and the meaning behind the research was the same – small concrete discrete steps are possible, and taking action on population dynamics is one of them.
- Population is on the agenda: Population issues – growth, density, distribution, aging, gender – were a constant at Planet Under Pressure – and in more ways than just looking at population as a driver. It is clear that there is interest, and a need, to address population as a key component of climate-compatible development.
- But those concerns and issues must be location specific, and must be contextualized for the policy and programmatic environment: Population issues must be framed in the appropriate context – and must move beyond academic exploration. I attended one session where a paper presented an academic supposition of whether we should invest in consumption versus fertility reduction to produce short-term returns for climate, but the analysis was completely devoid of any political, policy, or programmatic truth-testing. We must factor in those considerations when making recommendations, if ultimately we are really looking to make the difference that we can.
Photo Credit: “Urbanization in Asia,” courtesy of United Nations Photo.
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