New PSN briefing on population dynamics and biodiversity
11 June 2012
PSN has published a new briefing setting out the ways that population dynamics interact with the environment to influence rates of biodiversity loss, and sharing policy interventions to promote integrated approaches that address the interrelationships between population, health and the environment.
Climate change poses a major threat to bees and other critical pollinators.
Setting out the links
Biodiversity is vital to human well-being because it underpins the functioning of ecosystems upon which human life depends. Yet the combination of increasing population growth and consumption levels is changing the planet's ecosystems at an unprecedented rate and scale, resulting in rates of biodiversity loss that pose a major threat to human well-being.
Population dynamics, including population growth, density and migration, are important underlying causes of biodiversity loss, with human demands for food, energy, land and other natural resources placing ecosystems under increasing stress. Population growth and density are particularly high in areas where there is the greatest biodiversity and the threat of loss is most severe. In many of these 'biodiversity hotspots' women have a high unmet need for contraception.
While both the role of human population dynamics and consumption patterns as the underlying drivers of declining levels of biodiversity is acknowledged by conservationists, few conservation strategies address these direct causes of biodiversity loss.
By focusing on the interactions between population and the environment, Population Dynamics and Biodiversity: A PSN Briefing Paper highlights interventions which are often overlooked by conventional conservation strategies. These include strategies that seek to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights and women's empowerment, which offer scope to positively influence population dynamics, benefiting both people and the ecosystems upon which we depend.
The briefing includes a case study on Madagascar, highlighting the work of PSN's model project partner and network member Blue Ventures, and highlights the work of other PSN partners undertaking integrated Population, Health and Environment approaches.
Key policy recommendation highlights from the briefing:
- Addressing root causes: For conservation strategies to be successful in the long-term, human-rights based policies are required that address the role of both human population growth and dynamics and unsustainable patterns of consumption as underlying drivers of biodiversity loss. Awareness of the ways that population dynamics and consumption patterns interact and influence biodiversity loss must be increased across disciplines and amongst politicians, decision-makers, donors and NGOs.
- Increased investment in family planning: Family planning is a highly cost-effective intervention, empowering couples to achieve smaller, healthier families while reducing population growth and pressures on natural resources and biodiversity. To meet the needs of the 215 million women in developing countries with an unmet need for contraception, there must be increased investment in family planning, delivered as part of comprehensive reproductive health programmes that respect and protect rights.
- An integrated policy approach: Innovative Population Health Environment projects provide successful models for integrating family planning and other social investments into environmental programmes, offering opportunities to increase the effectiveness of conservation interventions while advancing reproductive health and contributing to poverty alleviation.
- Effective leadership and funding: Urgent action and strong leadership is required on a global scale to reverse the overexploitation and destruction of life-supporting ecosystems. Governments and donors should embrace integrated approaches addressing the interrelationships between people and the environment, requiring flexible funding mechanisms and support for cross-sector collaboration.
- Multi-sector collaboration and environmental planning and policy making: An integrated approach requires greater cooperation between environment, health and development organisations, including collaborative mechanisms at the international level. Sustainable development, environmental and urban planning requires consideration of population dynamics and trends including population growth and density, urbanisation and migration, and related impacts on biodiversity.
- Women’s empowerment, education and participation: Initiatives to promote women’s empowerment, including a focus on education will support women to exercise reproductive choices and reduce fertility rates. Recognising that women are key agents of change, often bear responsibility for management of natural resources, and are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of biodiversity loss, the full and equal participation of women in conservation interventions and decision making must be ensured.
Read the briefing
Providing facts and figures, case studies and policy recommendations, the paper contributes to a series of briefings from PSN communicating to audiences and policy makers from the development, environment, health and other sectors, the significance of population dynamics to key global development challenges.
The briefings are available to download in the Resources section.