Climate Change Activists Need To Talk About Population Too

Maps prepared by Population Action International overlay data on populations with high growth rates and low resilience to climate change.

“The environment does not exist as a sphere separate from human actions, ambitions, and needs, and attempts to defend it in isolation from human concerns have given the very word ‘environment’ a connotation of naivety in some political circles.”

These words come from the foreword of “Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development,” a landmark United Nations report that was written when the world’s population reached five billion. The report triggered the 1992 “Earth Summit” in Rio De Janeiro and a number of United Nations treaties and agreements all focusing on sustainable development.

It’s now 2012, and a new Earth Summit is being prepared for June of this year.  But what progress has been made in sustainable development in the past two decades, and how can you answer the problems without looking at the growing population? In my next piece for, I take a look at how these questions were addressed at an Aspen Institute event this past Thursday.


1 thought on “Climate Change Activists Need To Talk About Population Too

  1. Great article on an important yet overlooked issue. Unfortunately the Rio+20 zero draft contains no reference to reproductive health, and a very limited focus on population dynamics and other related issues such as gender equality.

    In response the Population and Climate Change Alliance (PCCA) has produced a document setting out recommendations and suggested text focusing on the significance of population dynamics and reproductive health and rights for sustainable development.

    Organisations undertaking advocacy work on these issues in relation to Rio+20 are invited to use the document as they wish to inform the ongoing negotiations. For further information see:

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