World scientists call for action on population and consumption ahead of Rio+20
14 June 2012
Today the world's 105 science academies have issued a joint statement highlighting the global challenges of population and consumption, calling upon world leaders to take decisive action.
Warnings ahead of Rio+20
Ahead of next week’s Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the IAP Statement on Population and Consumption sends a strong message to world leaders and policy makers that; "While progress has been made in some areas, the challenge of finding a path to global sustainability has not been met and the consequences of failure are now clearer and increasingly pressing".
"We are delighted that the world’s science academies have chosen to come together to highlight two of the most profound challenges to humanity – population and consumption - and to call for urgent and coordinated international action to address them" said IAP Co-Chairs.
Emphasising the relevance of population and consumption to the future of both developed and developing countries, the statement sets out the challenges faced as well as the actions necessary to address these pressing issues.
The statement reminds policy makers preparing for Rio+20 of the relevance of population and consumption because:
- Population and consumption determine the rates at which natural resources are exploited and the ability of the earth to sustainably provide the food, water, energy and other resources required by its inhabitants.
- Current patterns of consumption, especially in high-income countries, are eroding natural capital at rates that are severely damaging the interests of future generations.
- Rapid population growth can be an obstacle to improving standards of living in poor countries, to eliminating poverty and to reducing gender inequality.
- Changes in population age structure have important social, economic and potentially environmental ramifications.
- Population growth can contribute to movements of people (for example from the countryside to cities or between countries). If urbanisation and migration are unplanned for they can be economically and politically disruptive and have serious environmental impacts.
- The combination of unsustainable consumption patterns, especially in high-income countries, and of the number of people on the planet, directly affects the capacity of the earth to support its natural biodiversity.
The action necessary
Key actions that national and international policy and decision makers are urged to take include:
- To ensure that population and consumption are considered in all policies, including those related to poverty reduction and economic development, global governance, education, health, gender equality, biodiversity and the environment.
- To make global consumption sustainable; to reduce levels of damaging types of consumption and develop more sustainable alternatives.
- To encourage development strategies that help to reduce population growth, in particular programmes that promote education, especially of women and girls, and that ensure access to comprehensive reproductive health and family planning programmes.
- To design “green economy” innovations to increase human well-being and reduce environmental impacts.
- To develop policies that maximise the benefits of greater life expectancy, that improve the quality of life of older people, and that create new opportunities for their continued contribution to society.
- To develop policies that maximise the economic and social benefits of migration to both source and recipient countries.
- To implement urban planning policies that take into account consumption needs and demographic trends while capitalising on the potential economic, social and environmental benefits of urban living.
The full statement is available to download on the IAP website.
Read about what the Royal Society – the UK’s academy for Science, has to say about the statement.
Read an article about the statement in The Guardian.