PSN joins other organisations to celebrate World Population Day at UK parliament

July 14, 2008


Population and Sustainability Network was pleased to join other international organisations co-sponsoring this years World Population Day event held at the Houses of Parliament on the 14th July 2008.

Credit: UN Photo/Kibae Park 


The event which was hosted by IPPF and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health marked World Population Day with addresses by Gillian Merron, MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, and Sarah Brown, Chair of the White Ribbon Alliance.

The event was attended by organisations working in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, Ministers, Parliamentarians and Peers, Ambassadors and other high level decision makers and sought to raise the profile of population growth issues and the implications for poverty alleviation efforts and international development.

Other Co-Sponsors included FPA, Action Aid , Human Rights Watch, Marie Stopes International, White Ribbon Alliance and Women and Children First.

Transcripts of speeches made at the event are on the IPPF website.

The world approaches 7 billion in 2012

June 19, 2008

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau

The world population is projected to reach 7 billion in 2012, according to updated world population estimates and projections released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.


Credit: John Isaac/UNFPA

The database

The US Census Bureau's International Data Base (IDB ) provides information on population size and growth, age and sex composition, mortality, fertility and net migration. The data are available for 226 countries and other selected geographies.

This revision to the IDB includes updated projections for 34 countries and compared to previous estimates, and indicates that the world population will be 146 million larger in 2050.

The Census Bureau's latest projections show world population growing at a slower pace during the first half of the 21st century than the latter half of the 20th century. The world population doubled from 3 billion in 1959 to 6 billion in 1999, but is projected to increase by only 50 percent between 1999 and 2040.

Global population growth, about 1.2 percent per year, is projected to decline to 0.5 percent by 2050. However, this growth will be concentrated in less-developed countries.

About 1.5 percent of the current global population is 80 or older, with more than half living in developed countries. By 2050, about 5 percent of the world's population is projected to be 80 or older, with about three in four likely to be living in less-developed countries. For developed countries, the percentage of the population 80 or older will grow to about 10 percent in 2050.

The impact of HIV and AIDS

World population estimates and projections include the impact of HIV and AIDS. Of the 34 countries updated in this revision, nine are hard hit by this pandemic (Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic).

The International Data Base offers online users a choice of ways to retrieve demographic data, including:

PSN presents at conference on population and the environment in Istanbul

May 18, 2008


Population and Sustainability Network was pleased to participate at a conference on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Environmental Degradation and Climate Change, co-hosted by the EuroNGOs network and the European Parliamentary Forum (EPF) in Istanbul.

Credit: UN Photo/Fred Noy 


An international event

The event which took place on May 15th and 16th brought together 32 representatives from the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), humanitarian and environmental sectors from the EU member States, the USA and Africa in order to further understanding on the linkages between population issues, climate change and the environment.

Representatives from UNFPA, WHO, IPPF, Population Action International, DSW, World Watch Institute and Global Footprint Network were some of the international delegates at the two day event.

PSN discusses ethical considerations of population issues

PSN’s new coordinator, Karen Newman, spoke in the same session as Frances Kissling, Former President and founder of Catholics for Free Choice, whilst addressing the ethical considerations implicit with SRHR and population related issues.

Cross-sector partnerships are needed

PSN also led a workshop with delegates to examine the links and further discussion about the impact of the population factor on environmental degradation and the links between climate change and population.

With the combined knowledge from the SRHR and environmental sector, lively discussion ensured, and stimulated by a diverse range of presentations, concluded that there is pressing need for further partnership between the two sectors.

Examining the implications

The findings also emphasised that this relationship is multifaceted and densely nuanced with a great need for further research, since while experts agree that there is a connection between population and environment, with the current paucity in empirical findings the exact relationship will remain contested territory.

Given the emerging interest in the relationship between population growth, other general demographic trends, and climate change the strategic workshop was an important initial step within Europe to encourage discussion and examine the implications for donors and policy makers.

Moving Forward

PSN plans to build upon this initiative with a proposal to hold an International Forum with government specialists, academics, policy makers and NGO personnel in order to map out key target areas for research and subsequently appropriate policy responses.

Further information about the conference and the presentations is available on the EuroNGOs website. 

PSN welcomes a new coordinator

May 1, 2008


PSN is delighted to announce that Karen Newman is taking over coordination of the Network from Catherine Budgett-Meakin from the beginning of May, 2008.

Credit: PSN


Karen worked for IPPF from 1982 till 2003, focusing in the later part of that time on policy and governance issues, with a special responsibility for sexual and reproductive health and rights. She was one of the main architects of the IPPF Charter on Sexual and Reproductive Rights.

Since 2003 she has carried out a range of consultancy work, including assignments for DFID, WHO, UNFPA, Interact Worldwide, Amnesty International and IPPF Arab World, East and South East Asia and Western Hemisphere Regions. Her breadth of experience in terms of subject area and regional knowledge will be of considerable value.

More staff developments

PSN is also delighted to announce that Louise Carver has been appointed to help develop our communications strategy. Louise has been working with us for some time but now we are able to formally consolidate the appointment.

Catherine Budgett-Meakin will continue to work actively alongside the new team.

Peaking fuel sources cant keep up with population growth

February 29, 2008

SOURCE: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists John Guillebaud and Martin Desvaux

In a special addition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on Population and Climate change, Martin Desvaux and PSN Board member John Guillebaud discuss the issue of peak oil.

Credit: UN Photo/Brownie Harris 


Population and consumption: not an either-or 

Joe Chamie calls targeting unintended fertility a "delay tactic" that hinders the immediate pursuit of reducing resource consumption. Again, we want to reiterate that we don't view this as an either-or proposition. Instead, to avoid catastrophic climate change, we believe that the international community should pursue the methods that Fred Meyerson describes below to reverse population growth and ways in which to reduce resource consumption.

Diminishing oil reserves

The time we have available to achieve both of these goals is key. As stated previously, the United Nations currently projects (pdf) that world population will reach about 9 billion by 2050. Meanwhile, David Rutledge at the California Institute of Technology recently looked at projections for the depletion of conventional oil, gas, and coal reserves based on the application of M. King Hubbert's technique for determining peak oil and estimated that, by 2076, 90 percent of these reserves will be gone.

This is a much shorter timescale than previously believed--especially for coal, where mainstream predictions had indicated up to a 250-year supply. Rutledge's projections for coal production take into account new assessments of the recoverability of coal reserves, which may not be as accessible as once thought, and it's possible that earlier coal forecasts were based on current usage rates and didn't factor in acceleration from population growth and increased affluence. Several countries have already severely downgraded their reserves: In 2004, Germany, the largest coal producer in the European Union, reduced its estimated black coal reserves by 99 percent and its brown coal reserves by 80 percent.

Rising energy costs and scarcity

Aside from the devastating climate effects of burning all our fossil fuel, if demographers and Rutledge are correct, in less than 70 years, humankind will number 9 billion and energy will be scarce and expensive. Assuming that current growth in renewables and nuclear energy could provide 60 percent of the current world energy needs by 2075, Rutledge lays out the stark challenge facing humankind: Cut energy demand to 40 percent less than it is today and reduce global population to around 5 billion. We think this population target is still too high, given that Routledge doesn't take into account attrition in agriculture and land availability by that time.

Family planning must be prioritised

Because nearly one-half of the world's population is under the age of 25, placing them in the midst or still ahead of their childbearing years, reversing population growth cannot be achieved before 2050. Only a catastrophic die-off could make it happen sooner. The alternative is Fred's top-tier prioritization of voluntary family planning, plus education and media outreach now. Further delay means that we must contend with nearly a billion extra humans to feed and clothe every decade.

Developing countries deserve a better deal

It's all very well and good to say, as Joe does, that in Africa, "per-capita emissions are already so low that lower birthrates would not make a noticeable dent in total global emissions." But this implies tolerating an appalling status quo: Who among us doesn't passionately want to see the poorest people of the world escape their unacceptable poverty? It's not difficult to understand that one less person born into poverty is one less person who needs to be helped out of poverty--a development process that cannot occur without increased energy consumption and (in the medium term) more carbon-dioxide emissions per person.

The data we gave in our first post showed that in 2003, Africa had a per-capita ecological footprint of 1.1 global hectares (gha) against an available bio-capacity of 1.3 gha per person. In other words, more than a 17.6-percent increase in Africa's population will make it impossible for even underdeveloped states to sustain their current populations due to space, energy, and (especially) water constraints. As Africa doesn't have the same buffer of wealth as the developed countries possessed when they crossed the line of unsustainability, that process will have a much harsher impact on Africans. One of us (John Guillebaud) was born and brought up in Burundi and Rwanda, and from recent visits, he knows firsthand how many sub-Saharan African countries are already on the verge of demographic entrapment. Once the environmental carrying capacity is grossly exceeded, the only likely outcomes are starvation, disease, inter-ethnic violence and genocide, migration (and to where?), and/or dependence on aid from the international community.