Written evidence submitted by the UK All
Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive
The UK APPG on PD&RH wants to draw attention
to population growth and the 215 million women in the world with
an unmet need for family planning and sustainable development.
Population, Consumption and the Environment:
The human population has doubled since 1960 to 6.1
billion, with growth mostly in poorer countries. Consumption expenditures
have more than doubled since 1970, with increases mostly in richer
countries. During this time, we have created wealth on an unimaginable
scale, yet half the world still exists on less than $2 a day.
We have learned how to extract resources for our use, but not
how to deal with the resulting waste: emissions of carbon dioxide,
for example, grew 12 times between 1900 and 2000. In the process
we are changing the world's climatewe have raised the average
global surface temperatures. The human and ecological impact has
caused rising oceans, which has subsequently caused increased
flooding, coastal erosion, and loss of coastal cropland, wetlands
and living space. The intensity and frequency of hurricanes and
other hazardous weather may also increase, endangering the growing
human population in coastal areas.
The great questions for the 21st century are whether
the activities of the 20th century have set us on a collision
course with the environment, and if so, what can we do about it?
Human ingenuity has brought us this far. How can we apply it to
the future so as to ensure the well-being of human populations,
and still protect the natural world?
The stewardship of the planet and the well-being
of its people are a collective responsibility. Everywhere we face
critical decisions. Some are about how to protect and promote
fundamental values such as the right to health and human dignity.
Others reflect trade-offs between available options, or the desire
to broaden the range of choice. We need to think carefully but
urgently about what the choices are, and to take every action
that will broaden choices and extend the time in which to understand
Today every part of the natural and human world is
linked to every other. Local decisions have a global impact. Global
policy, or the lack of it, affects local communities and the conditions
in which they live. Humans have always changed and been changed
by the natural world; the prospects for human development now
depend on our wisdom in managing the relationship.
One of the key factors must be population and access
to family planning and maternal and reproductive health services.
This is one of the areas where action to broaden choices is universally
available, affordable and agreed upon.
Population and the environment are closely related,
but the links between them are complex and varied, and depend
on specific circumstances. Generalisations about the negative
effects of population growth on the environment are often misleading.
Population scientists long ago abandoned such an approach, yet
policy in some cases still proceeds as if it were a reality.
As human populations increase and globalisation proceeds,
key policy questions are: how to use available resources of land
and water to produce food for all; how to promote economic development
and end poverty so that all can afford to eat and have clean water;
and, in doing so how to address the human and environmental consequences
of industrialisation and concerns like global warming, climate
change and the loss of biological diversity.
Environmental devastation is not simply a waste of
resources; it is a threat to the complex structures that support
Understanding the ways in which population and environment
are linked requires detailed consideration of the way in which
factors interrelate, including affluence, consumption, technology
and population growth, but also previously ignored or underrated
social concerns such as gender roles and relations, political
structures, and governance at all levels.
The relationships among environment, population and
social development are increasingly better understood. There is
broad agreement on means and ends. Women's empowerment, for example,
is a development end in itself. Removing the obstacles to women's
exercise of economic and political power is also one of the means
to end poverty.
Reproductive health is part of an essential package
of health care and education. It is a means to the goal of women's
empowerment, but it is also a human right and includes the right
to choose the size and spacing of the family. Achieving equal
status between men and women, guaranteeing the right to reproductive
health, and ensuring that individuals and couples can make their
own choices about family size will help to slow population growth
rates and reduce the future size of world population.
Among other things, slower population growth will
contribute measurably towards relieving environmental stress.
Demographic Challenges and Opportunities:
Changes in the size, rate of growth and distribution
of human populations have a broad impact on the environment and
on development prospects. A variety of demographic changes in
different areas provide new challenges and opportunities.
million couples would use contraception today, but have no access
to advice or services.
350 000 women die in childbirth each year, half of these in Africathe
main causes of death being unsafe abortion, Post Partum Haemorrhage,
Puerperal Sepsis, Pre-Eclampsia and Obstructed labour.
Women, men, couples should be at the core of the
sustainable development agenda, if we want to improve human well
being and preserve the quality of the environment.
The Rio+20 Summit should heed the first principle
of the 1992 Rio Declarationthat "human beings are
at the centre of concern for Sustainable Development"by
taking full account of how population and society interact with
the natural environment.
If sustainable development is to mean anything, people
must be healthy enough to benefit from it and not have their lives
cut off prematurely through a lack of choice.
If we do not put the Human Population and Family
Planning, Maternal and Reproductive Health at the core of the
sustainable-development agenda, our efforts to improve human well
being and preserve the quality of the environment would most likely
fail. We will without any doubt jeopardise the Millennium Development
Regional and national Parliamentary All Party Parliamentary
Groups on Population and Development uphold the view that women's
empowerment, women's rights and human rights including sexual
and reproductive health rights are integral components of population
and development strategies designed to improve the quality of
life of individuals, couples, families and society in general.
Sustainable development rests on three pillars, these
pillars are mutually supportive and create a synergy for sustainable
of the environment and natural resources.
Reaffirming our commitment to the Millennium Declaration
(2000) and the Programme of Action of the International Conference
on Population and Development (1994) by empowering women through
universal access to education, family planning and reproductive
health services will ensure:
unwanted and unplanned pregnancies.
Maternal and Infant Mortality & Morbidity rates.
HIV/AIDS prevalence rates.
quality of life and well-being.
On our journey from Rio to Johannesburg and back
to Rio we must go through Cairothe International Conference
on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD PoA).
At the Rio+20 Summit we urge the UK Government and
other countries to:
their commitment to the ICPD Programme of Action by making accessible
through the primary health system family planning, maternal and
reproductive health care.
10% of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Family Planning,
Maternal and Reproductive Healthand enshrine in law 0.7%
of GNI allocated to ODA.
In summary Population and Family Planning, Maternal
and Reproductive Health must figure prominently on the Rio+20
agenda as a key component of sustainable development.
Population must not be: the elephant in the living
room that nobody wants to talk about.
It is time for us to stand up and fight for women's
rights including their sexual and reproductive rights.
3 August 2011