“Continual economic growth is not sustainable.”
The Royal Society says that developed nations consume too much and that the world’s population is too high.
Consumption levels between developed and developing nations must be rebalanced alongside a stabilisation of the world’s population by voluntary methods, according to a new report from the Royal Society published today (Thursday, 26th April 2012). The most developed and the emerging economies must stabilise consumption levels, then reduce them, to help the poorest 1.3 billion people to escape absolute poverty through increased consumption. Alongside this, education and voluntary family planning programmes must be supported internationally to stabilise global population. The new report, People and the Planet, is the result of a 21 month study by the Royal Society, the UK’s 350 year-old national academy of science, on the issues around global population.
Royal Society report ‘People and the Planet’ – Eliya Msiyaphazi Zulu
Eliya Msiyaphazi Zulu, PhD. (Executive Director)
Royal Society report ‘People and the Planet’ – Sir John Sulston FRS
Sir John Sulston Bio
Sir John Sulston – The Royal Society’s Study of People and the Planet
“At the moment, the agendas of the growing population of people and the environment are too separate — people are thinking about one or the other,” said Sir John Sulston, Nobel laureate and chair of the Royal Society’s People and the Planet working group, in an interview with ECSP. “People argue about, ‘Should we consume less or should we have fewer people?’ The point is it’s both. We need to draw it together. It’s people and their activities.”
Sulston won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on mapping the human genome. He said that experience helped him appreciate the importance of utilizing science to the benefit of the wider public as he advocated for keeping the human genome in the public domain rather than allowing the knowledge to be privatized.
Key recommendations include:
1. The international community must bring the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1.25 per day out of absolute poverty, and reduce the inequality that persists in the world today. This will require focused efforts in key policy areas including economic development, education, family planning and health.
2. The most developed and the emerging economies must stabilise and then reduce material consumption levels through: dramatic improvements in resource use efficiency, including: reducing waste; investment in sustainable resources, technologies and infrastructures; and systematically decoupling economic activity from environmental impact.
3. Reproductive health and voluntary family planning programmes urgently require political leadership and financial commitment, both nationally and internationally. This is needed to continue the downward trajectory of fertility rates, especially in countries where the unmet need for contraception is high.
4. Population and the environment should not be considered as two separate issues. Demographic changes, and the influences on them, should be factored into economic and environmental debate and planning at international meetings, such as the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development and subsequent meetings.