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Family planning helps achieve environmental sustainability


Investing in family planning helps achieve environmental sustainability

Wellington, 1st June 2011:

This World Environment Day, the New Zealand Parliamentarians' Group on Population and Development (NZPPD) highlights the relationship between family planning and environmental sustainability.

Climate change is now recognised as one of the leading threats to environmental sustainability. This is particularly so for the Pacific, where climate change threatens the existence of several Pacific Islands.

A wide range of mitigation and adaptation strategies are required to address this. One strategy that is often overlooked is meeting the unmet need for family planning to enable women to achieve their desired family size. Women in the Pacific have expressed a desire to have fewer children, and yet, in the Solomon Islands only 27 percent of women are using a modern contraceptive, even though between 70 and 90 percent of those women would like to manage their fertility.[2]

Access to voluntary family planning improves women's health, education and employment opportunities, which increases the resilience of women and their families to deal with the effects of climate change.

Further, smaller family size reduces the rate of population growth, which helps alleviate population pressure on key resources such as water, food and land. This enables populations to better adapt to the effects of climate change.

By 2050 the world's population is forecast to reach 9 billion people.[3] If population follows one of the slower growth paths foreseen as plausible by demographers at the United Nations, this alone could provide 16 to 29 percent of the emission reductions thought necessary to keep global temperatures from causing serious impacts in this time.[4]

The Pacific region is already experiencing the negative effects of climate change and increased investment in family planning services can help families and individuals mitigate against this. NZPPD Chair Dr Jackie Blue says there are a number of ways family planning can help ensure environmental sustainability: 'In the Pacific many families rely on subsistence farming and land is often passed down to children - being divided many times in large families. Eventually children will not inherit enough land to live off. There are a number of pressures on the environment - land, water, food, waste - providing access to family planning can help alleviate some of these pressures.'

This World Environment Day NZPPD calls for greater global investment in family planning, recognising the broader environmental benefits this supports.

World Environment day is 5th June.

The NZPPD is cross - party, with currently 44 members representing just fewer than 40 percent of all New Zealand MPs. The group has provided a forum for New Zealand parliamentarians to engage and act on international population and development issues for twelve years. The NZPPD has a particular focus on the Pacific region, where the population and development challenges remain great. Family Planning International houses the NZPPD Secretariat.


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