Experts Reflect on the State and Future of Research on Family Planning and Environmental Sustainability

Worldwatch’s Family Planning and Environmental Sustainability Assessment (FPESA) project is surveying the field of health and environmental research for well-documented and evaluated data shedding light on how the use of family planning might relate to environmental sustainability. Author Vicky Markham gives a sneak peek at what researchers are saying about this complex issue.

Laying the foundation for the Family Planning and Environmental Sustainability Assessment in 2014 and early 2015, we contacted experts with some experience in both fields for guidance — and their takes on the state of research connecting family planning, population, and environmental sustainability.

There aren’t many such experts, but they can be found. Defying the disciplinary walls that separate reproductive health from the environmental sciences, a small group of researchers has delved over the past few decades into possible connections between these two fields. Many of those we interviewed contributed significantly to the design of our search for scientific evidence on the linkages.

Logic and research suggest that growing populations tend to contribute to various environmental stresses. So, by extension, if wider use of family planning slows population growth, it should generally produce some benefits in slowing the pace of human-caused environmental change. Experts agreed, however, that this relationship is complex, under-researched, and not well or uniformly documented … Continue reading on Worldwatch’s Family Planning and Environmental Sustainability Assessment (FPESA) website.

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For the full article, visit Worldwatch’s Family Planning and Environmental Sustainability Assessment (FPESA) website. This article is excerpted from the findings of the upcoming report. A list of experts the author interviewed and their affiliations will be included in the report.

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Vicky MarkhamVicky Markham is founding director of the Center for Environment and Population, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that addresses human and environmental interactions through research, policy, advocacy, field work, and youth engagement. She is a consultant to the Worldwatch Institute’s Family Planning and Environmental Sustainability Assessment (FPESA) project.

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