New PSN briefings on population, poverty and climate change

November 15, 2010


PSN has published two new briefings, setting out the links between population dynamics and climate change, and the relationship between population dynamics and poverty reduction.

Credit: UN Photo/Kibae Park


Putting population on the global agenda

The two briefing papers published this month by PSN are entitled Population Dynamics and Poverty Reduction, and Population Dynamics and Climate Change. The briefings explore and make recommendations in relation to the various ways in which poverty reduction, and climate change, are influenced by population dynamics.

Providing key points, facts and figures, case studies, as well as policy recommendations, the briefings are designed to communicate to audiences and policy makers from the development, environment, health and other sectors, the significance of population dynamics to key global development challenges.

Population dynamics and poverty alleviation

Key policy points and recommendations from this briefing include:

  • Population dynamics, including fertility levels, population growth and density, ageing, migration and urbanisation, influence and are influenced by poverty.
  • Rapid population growth in countries with low levels of economic development places great strain on public services.
  • High fertility levels in the least developed countries is undermining development and is associated with high levels of poverty, poor health outcomes, environmental degradation, food insecurity, conflict and instability.
  • Family planning programmes are proven to be a highly cost-effective means of improving health outcomes and achieving development goals, yet funding for these programmes is inadequate.
  • Integrated development approaches that encompass family planning, reproductive health and environmental programmes have been successful in alleviating poverty and promoting environmental sustainability.
  • Increasing women’s access to education is a powerful instrument for reducing fertility levels, poverty reduction and women’s empowerment.

Population dynamics and climate change

Key policy points and recommendations from this briefing include:

  • Climate change has to date been driven largely by the actions of industrialised countries, yet the impacts are greatest in countries in the global South.
  • Population growth compounds human vulnerability to climate change and makes adaptation more difficult.
  • Variables such as household size, urbanisation and ageing, as well as population size, affect emissions scenarios in complex ways and are not adequately reflected in current climate change models.
  • Increasing access to voluntary family planning services can play a role in climate change adaptation strategies.
  • Least developed countries characterised by rapid population growth and high vulnerability to climate change should be supported to integrate voluntary family planning into their adaptation programmes.
  • An integrated approach requires greater cooperation between development, environment and health organisations.
  • 'Contraction and Convergence’ presents an equitable framework for global climate change response.

Read the briefings: Population Dynamics and Poverty Reduction, and Population Dynamics and Climate Change.

PSN is grateful for the financial assistance received from the European Union to produce the briefings.