Population and the Millennium Development Goals: the missing link

December 5, 2011


With the deadline for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) fast-approaching, a new article from PSN looks at the difference a focus on population could make to achievement of the MDGs.

Credit: UN Photo/Oddbjorn Monsen


Looking to 2015

While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have provided a significant mobilising force for efforts to address world poverty, if they had included a focus on population issues, the goals would be easier and less costly to achieve. This is the argument made by a new article from PSN, seeking to increase awareness of the wide-ranging benefits and cost-saving effects of family planning, as the international community begins to consider what a post-2015 development agenda might look like and consist of.

Population: a missing but crucial link

With population receiving no mention in the MDG Framework, the article highlights that now "population is more significant than ever." At the start of the millennium the world population was 6.1 billion. By 2015 it is expected to reach 7.3 billion and exceed 10 billion by the end of the century. The vast majority of growth taking place in the developing nations which are already struggling to meet their citizens' basic needs. Be it food or security, conflict and instability, or environmental degradation, population is a "significant yet missing link between so many pressing development priorities."

Reproductive rights: a 'win-win' approach

The silence on population issues must be addressed by the post-2015 development framework, and the article calls for rights-based reproductive health approaches to be embraced as part of wider development priorities that are threatened by population increase, including poverty alleviation, climate change and sustainable development. This offers a 'win-win' approach: achieving universal reproductive health while reducing the cost and difficulties of achieving other development goals.

The article by PSN's Sarah Fisher and Karen Newman was published in the Freedom from Want, a quarterly magazine published by the ASEAN Regional Centre of Excellence on the MDGs, of the Asian Institute for Technology , Thailand.

Read the article: The magazine is available online, with PSN's article beginning on page 18.