A new initiative aims to draw attention to stories about population and consumption from women around the world to mark World Population Day. The focus lies on personal experiences and encourages a greater discussion about the links between population, consumption, and protecting nature.
By Pernilla Hansson
World Population Day is held every year on the 11th of July. Having been established in 1989 by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme, it remembers the 11th of July 1987, also called the Day of Five Billion, when the world population reached five billion people. It was created to focus attention on the importance of population issues, and to uphold the human right to family planning. World Population Day should be a reminder of the right to proper services and information about family planning methods, as well as stressing the urgency in tackling population issues.
Achieving a society where everyone is given equal access to health care and education is not just essential for human rights, it is also vital for the protection of the ecosphere and climate. As our population grows, we continue to claim more land for housing and the production of food for humans, while other species face a sixth mass extinction event. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have stated that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion has two main drivers: economic growth and population growth. Addressing both these drivers is necessary to achieve a sustainable population while staying within the 1.5°C target of the Paris agreement. Our population size and consumption patterns are therefore intimately linked to the wellbeing of our planet and the natural world.
To mark World Population Day, our colleagues Drs Chris Tucker and Phoebe Barnard are working with a team to collect some personal reflections from women around the world on population and consumption, as it affects them. If you identify as a woman or teenaged girl 18 or over, and are interested in having your profile featured in this project, please submit the following by July 8:
- A short, 120-180 word personal reflection, written in the first person in English, on the subjects of population pressure, consumption, nature, planetary boundaries, family planning, and/or personal choice.
- A good quality, high resolution head-and-shoulders photo of yourself.
- Your country of origin (or you can also choose “global citizen” if you have multiple countries).
- If you are extra inspired, you could also submit a maximum 25 second clip of yourself speaking your most important messages in a well-lit video with little or no background noise (smartphone is okay).
- Please email these with the subject line “population conversations” to Phoebe Barnard at firstname.lastname@example.org, preferably copied to email@example.com, before July 8.
- If selected, the profiles will appear with those of women around the world on July 11 for World Population Day.
- If you haven’t already, please join their global Facebook group, Population Conversations, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/populationconversations!
Initiatives like these are crucial for furthering the discussion on the connections between population, consumption, and nature, a discussion that must be had to realise a sustainable future.