Today, the Population Institute joins more than 150 other leading environmental and reproductive health organizations to pledge support for a first-of-its-kind campaign: Thriving Together. The campaign was organized by the Margaret Pyke Trust, located in the United Kingdom, but it has attracted global support. Supporting organizations are united in the belief that removing barriers to the use of family planning services contributes to the health and well-being of women and their families, while also benefiting the environment and biodiversity.
The Population Institute believes that in environmentally sensitive areas, particularly those threatened by resource depletion, holistic approaches—including Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) projects—that improve access to health and family planning services, while also taking steps to restore the environment and protect critical bio-habitats, can make communities healthier, more sustainable and, in the long run, more prosperous.
Two months ago, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) issued a landmark report warning that human pressures—both population and consumption—are contributing to the unravelling of nature. In releasing the report, IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson said, “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
The UN’s latest population projections indicate that global population will likely rise from 7.7 billion today to 9.7 billion by 2050. Future population growth is uncertain, however, and is highly sensitive to small changes in fertility. If the physical, financial, educational, social and religious barriers to people using family planning services were removed, fertility rates would fall faster than currently projected.
Robert Engelman, a Senior Fellow at the Population Institute, noted that, “Gender inequality is a major contributor to high fertility rates in many parts of the world today. In addition to improving access and removing barriers to the use of family planning information and services, we urgently need to boost the education of girls, eliminate child marriage, and empower women. If we can make progress on those fronts, while also taking action on climate change and boosting support for conservation programs, there’s reason to hope we can create healthier families and a healthier planet.”