CIWEM believes that there must be an end to the presumption that economic growth is essential for a successful society, meaning a review of all policies that encourage large families, along with the UK leading the way in international negotiations to increase levels of overseas aid committed to empowering women to take greater control of their own fertility.

The global population is predicted to rise to 7 billion people in 2011, with the population of the 50 poorest countries more than doubling to 1.7 billion by 2050. CIWEM believes that women’s empowerment is central to addressing population concerns, and that preventing unintended pregnancies would yield social, economic and health benefits worldwide.

Reducing unplanned births and family size would save on public-sector spending for health, water, sanitation and social services, as well as reduce pressure on scarce natural resources. Reducing unintended pregnancies among adolescents would also improve educational and employment opportunities for women, which would in turn contribute to improving the status of women, increase family savings, reduce poverty and spur economic growth.

Because of these far-reaching benefits, increased investment in family planning could accelerate progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

CIWEM’s Executive Director, Nick Reeves OBE, says: “The international community needs to increase funding immediately to ensure every woman has access to family planning services, helping eliminate an estimated 53 million unintended pregnancies a year. We want to see wider public education regarding reproduction and fertility, in all areas of society, and provision of free family planning support to all. A cultural shift is also needed to make it more socially acceptable to have one child or none at all, so governments must review all policies and activities relating to population growth as a tool for economic growth. If we can achieve this, we will help bring the global population down and improve millions of lives in the process.”

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, CIWEM, is an independent professional body and a registered charity, advancing the science and practice of water and environmental management for a clean, green and sustainable world. www.ciwem.org

CIWEM has a variety of publications regarding population and the environment. Please see the Policy Position Statement on Living with Environmental Limits at http://www.ciwem.org/policy-and-international/policy-position-statements/living-within-environmental-limits.aspx and CIWEM’s Manifesto at http://www.ciwem.org/media/185527/manifesto09.pdf

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.