Rapid and widespread changes in the world’s human population, coupled
with unprecedented levels of consumption present profound challenges to
human health and wellbeing, and the natural environment.
gives an overview of how global population and consumption are linked,
and the implications for a finite planet.
Working Group chair Sir John Sulston FRS,
Chair of the Institute for Science, Ethics & Innovation,
University of Manchester.
Key recommendations include:
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.
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
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.
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
Other recommendations made in the report focus on:
the potential for urbanisation to reduce material consumption
removing barriers to achieve high-quality primary and secondary education for all
undertaking more research into the interactions between consumption, demographic change and environmental impact