The UK International Development Committee has published a report of the 2010 Millennium Development Goals Review Summit, urging that that future development targets take account of the need to address world population increase.
The report, published last month by the International Development Committee (a UK parliamentary committee of the House of Commons), shares the findings of an enquiry into the outcomes of the 2010 Millennium Development Goals Review Summit held in New York last September.
The report also examines the role of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Looking ahead beyond 2015, the target year for achievement of the MDGs, proposals are put forward for a new international development framework.
Strong conclusions are made by the report about the lack of focus upon population growth within the current MDG framework, and about the need for a focus upon population issues by a future development framework.
The report highlights that the MDG framework does not explicitly address the issue of population growth, and that the summit outcome document didn't mention population at all. This is referred to as a “major oversight, given that the world’s population is growing and that many developing countries have high fertility rates.”
Future planning for how to accommodate extra people's needs is therefore highlighted as essential by the report.
The fact that like the MDG Framework, DFID’s stated priorities do not explicit address the issue of population growth, is criticised by the report.
On this issue however, the report explains that; “The Secretary of State [UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell] agreed with us that DFID's current efforts to prioritise women's health should simultaneously seek to address population growth.”
Since the International Development Committee published the report, DFID has launched its strategy for improving reproductive, maternal and newborn health in the developing world. In the framework the UK government pledges to enable at least 10 million couples to access family planning over the next five years. The need to address population growth does command some attention in the reproductive health strategy, as recently reported by PSN.
The report urges DFID to take on a strong role in encouraging the international community to address population growth;
“As 2015 draws closer, we recommend that DFID advocate strongly that the post-2015 framework give sufficient attention to the issue of population growth so that future targets take account of the need to address the world's increasing number of people.”
The International Development Committee also report how contributors to the enquiry expressed concern about the lack of focus upon climate change.
Since the MDGs were created a decade ago awareness about the level of carbon emissions and changes to the world's climate has grown substantially. Climate change is now a major factor affecting sustainable development and poverty reduction strategies. As such the committee recommend that a post-2015 framework make climate change, the environment and biodiversity a priority.
The report warns that “progress on other targets will depend on addressing the wide-ranging impacts of climate change, such as crop failure, the increased incidence of natural disasters and new patterns of evacuees and refugees.”
“We encourage the UK Government to participate in discussions relating to such approaches at this early stage so that negotiations do not become rushed as 2015 approaches.”
Population and Sustainability Network welcomes the International Development Committee’s report and fully endorses its recommendations that the pressing issues of population growth and climate change must command urgent attention as part of any new development framework.
Intrinsic links exist between reproductive health, population and climate change adaptation and mitigation issues. We would encourage the International Development Committee and DFID to seek to increase awareness of these links and to advocate for the necessary integrated approaches. Given that rapid population growth can undermine the capacity of countries most affected by climate change to adapt, increased investment in voluntary family planning offers a clear opportunity for supporting adaptation to climate change, and promoting climate resilient development.
The full report is available at the UK parliament website.