Population should have been on summit agenda (SEPT)

15 February 2009

Media Releases 2009

Sep 6, 2002

Efforts made at the Johannesburg Summit would have a better chance of success had human population been recognised as being at the core of sustainable development, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

The World Summit on Sustainable Development finished this week with a series of commitments on priority areas including water and sanitation, energy, health and biodiversity.

National President of SPA, Dr Harry Cohen, said today that changes in population growth, age structure and distribution interacted closely with the environment and with development.

“As Wolfgang Lutz and other scientists said in the journal Science prior to the Summit, rapid population growth has exacerbated freshwater depletion, climate change, biodiversity loss, depletion of fisheries and other coastal resources, and degradation of agricultural lands.”

Dr Cohen says slowing population growth can make environmental problems easier to solve.

“When women slow population growth by having fewer children, resources can be diverted into health, education, infrastructure and environmental protection,” says Dr Cohen.

“Many of the world’s poorest countries, particularly their rural areas, are characterised by high fertility and high population growth rates,” he says. “This has contributed to falling agricultural productivity, growing environmental degradation and continued low levels of investment in the health and education of children.

“On the other hand, those countries that have escaped poverty are generally characterised by much slower population growth, lower fertility and lower mortality.”

Dr Cohen says that, while he remains disappointed that Johannesburg failed to address population issues, he anticipates the United Nations will hold another conference on Population in 2004, similar to the one in Cairo in 1994 and Mexico City in 1984.

“We can only hope that the importance of population in the role of development will be better appreciated there.”

Further information:

Dr Harry Cohen, Ph (w): 08 9381 9729 Ph (m): 0407 426 987 E:president@population.org.au

Jenny Goldie (SPA National Director) Ph: 02 6235 5488 E: info@population.org.au


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