PSN co-hosts a Population and Climate Change Symposium

March 2, 2010


PSN co-hosted the first symposium of its kind to address the links between population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health and rights and climate change, in London on March 1st. 

Credit: Richard Huggard/ Commat


Setting out the links

With the need to take forward the Copenhagen agenda and to mark the 10th anniversary of the Millennium Development Goals later this year, this important event brought together policy-makers from Africa, including four government ministers from sub-Saharan Africa, and UK parliamentarians.

PSN was proud to partner the British Medical Association, the Commonwealth Medical Trust  and the Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office in hosting the symposium.

Symposium aims

The purpose of the symposium was to:

  • discuss the links between securing sexual and reproductive health and rights for all
  • tackle the challenges presented by climate change
  • generate consensus on the critical actions needed to address them effectively.


The Symposium consisted of technical and political sessions giving parliamentarians, academics, civil society organizations and climate change and sexual and reproductive health and rights activists an opportunity to generate consensus on the important links between population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health and rights and climate change.

A Keynote panel began the day, setting out the links between population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health and rights and climate change in a post-Copenhagen world, and why are they important. This panel included Jonathon Porritt, Professor Anthony Costello (UCL), Dr Paul Wilkinson (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and Dr Vivienne Nathanson (BMA).

Late morning the floor was given to papers devoted to practical matters on local adaptations and "what works on the ground" given by Dr Jotham Musinguzi (Regional Director,  Partners in Population and Development, Africa Regional Office), Siri Tellier (UNFPA), Karen Hardee (PAI), Negash Teklu (PHE Consortium, Ethiopia) and Dr Vic Mohan (Blue Ventures).

The early afternoon session "Political Options for Progress" was chaired by John Vidal, Environment Editor of The Guardian. This session brought together three government ministers from Africa sharing information and responding to questions  climate change, population dynamics and reproductive health and rights issues from the perspectives of their own countries: 

  • Hon Prof Peter Anyang Nyong'o, Minister of Medical Services, Kenya.
  • Hon Prof. David Mwakyusa, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Tanzania.
  • Ephraim Kamuntu, Minister of State for Finance/Planning, Uganda.

UK MPs from the major UK political parties, including Andrew Mitchell, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, responded and outlined their policies on population dynamics and climate change.

The concluding and wrap-up session included speakers Gill Greer (Director-General, IPPF), PSN's Karen Newman, Dr Jotham Musinguzi, Professor Malcolm Potts of University of California, Berkeley and Dr Susannah Mayhew of LSHTM, reviewing the key priorities for linking population dynamics to climate change.

Key emerging messages

Karen Newman of PSN concluded the symposium, acknowledging that the relationship between climate change and population is complex, controversial and critical. Key messages from the day included:

  • valuable consensus generated at the Symposium on the importance of a rights-based approach to tackling the links between population dynamics and climate change;
  • the need to secure additional funding for family planning services that respect and protect rights;
  • the need for climate change adaptation funding streams to be flexible enough to recognize family planning as part of effective adaptation strategies;
  • the need for political leadership to ensure that issues related to population growth are addressed in tandem with efforts to reduce consumption. 

Reports and further information

More information can be found on the  Climate Change Symposium Website.

Read the report of the International Policy Symposium on Population Dynamics and Climate Change.

Read the summary report on the connection between population dynamics, reproductive health and rights and climate change.