Our History

Population and Sustainability Network (PSN) developed out of the preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002 in Johannesburg of the UK Committee of the United Nations Environment and Development Programme (UNEP).

Following on from the World Summit, in 2003 Catherine Budgett-Meakin set up PSN with Toby Aykroyd and the support of the steering group. PSN was formally launched as a Partnership for Sustainable Development under the UN Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) at the UN in New York in April 2004.

Founding motivation

PSN was established at a time when it was becoming increasingly apparent that funding targets, set at the UN International Population Conference in Cairo in 1994 to enable attainment of its wide-ranging objectives relation to population and reproductive health and rights issues, were not being met, and that population matters were not receiving the global profile which they urgently require.

The Network was established to promote discussion and collaboration on population and consumption issues; particularly with reference to the following shared concerns and aims of members:

  • Insufficient attention awarded to the negative impact of population increase upon poverty alleviation and socio-economic development in the global South, and the global environmental consequences of unsustainable patterns of consumption by the global North.
  • Lack of realisation of women’s rights to plan and space their pregnancies as they choose.
  • The multiple barriers women and couples face in accessing voluntary family planning services, including: lack of political support for and investment in reproductive health programmes, lack of education and information about family planning options, and social and cultural barriers, including gender inequalities and religious barriers.
  • To overcome the silence on population issues and the association of population issues with coercive ‘population control’ of the ‘60s and ‘70s, by advancing voluntary, rights-based family planning programmes.
  • To address the complexities and sensitivities obstructing constructive, integrated dialogue on population and consumption issues in relation to global sustainability.
  • To promote increased understanding of the links between population and climate change and advance approaches, such as contraction and convergence, which mirror the PSN ‘Population – Consumption Coin’ concept by recognising the twin rights and responsibilities of the developed and developing worlds – see below.

Founding overarching concept of the Network – The Population Coin

On one side of the coin

The economic, social and environmental consequences of population growth for sustainability. This mainly applies to the majority (developing) world.



On the other side

The consequences for global sustainability of high levels of consumption per capita (with particular reference to CO² emissions). This mainly applies to the minority (developed) world, but with global impacts.




Margaret Pyke Trust

PSN was founded by and is part of Margaret Pyke Trust (MPT). In 1969 MPT founded the Margaret Pyke Family Planning Clinic – now one of the largest specialist NHS centres for Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare in the UK. The contraceptive and reproductive health services provided by The Margaret Pyke Centre  are now funded and administered by NHS Central and North West London, and MPT continues to support specialist medical education and research.

The Trust runs accredited symposia in Central London and regionally for health care professionals to advance knowledge and practice in both theoretical and practical aspects of family planning and reproductive health care.

The Research Unit, under the guidance of the Margaret Pyke Professor of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare has expanded in recent years and is researching several projects including the evaluation of new and existing contraceptive products for their safety, effectiveness and consumer acceptability.

Since 2001 MPT has been a core sponsor and supporter of PSN.