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Population Matters is the leading population charity in the UK. We campaign to change the way people think about population. Our aims are to campaign, educate and carry out research on how population size affects sustainability, the environment and our quality of life. We are committed to ensuring a sustainable future for humanity and the environment.

Population Matters Update
April 2012


Attending the Planet under Pressure event in London last month, I was again struck by the gulf between the grim forecasts of some of the scientists present and the more positive tone of some environmental campaigners. The reason for the latter is an increasingly held view that simply preaching “doom and gloom” will not motivate people to take any action.  It may be that we need to keep both elements in mind: remaining aware of the extremely grave and urgent nature of the issue of human impact on the environment and resources while still seeking to convince people that making personal decisions to limit their own impact and that of their family is worth doing.


Sir Bob Geldof calls for smaller families

"It's estimated that if 200 million women were given free contraceptives, it could stop 80 million unintended pregnancies," Geldof, the musician and activist, said at the second Gulf Intelligence Food Security Forum in Abu Dhabi.  "That would bring world population growth to a halt - which is a start."  He said Arab countries' populations were rising faster than ones elsewhere - by an average of 1.7 per cent a year, compared with the global average of 1.2 per cent.  "The water available here has dropped 75 per cent since 1950," said Geldof, who heads the Band Aid Charitable Trust, which helps to relieve poverty in Ethiopia.  "By 2050, that will be cut in half if the population increases. Less water means no crops - so it's a perfect storm."

"I think the tipping point has been reached," Geldof said. "There can't be more people on the Earth than we can feed."  The key, he believes, is in educating women, because when women are educated they have fewer children.  Water's going to run out first because you need it to produce food," he said.  Geldof said it was no longer viable to continue with so many people in the world.  "We must see the possibility of life, not just to individual children, but to the human species," he said.  "And I'm not that optimistic."

The full story is here.

Family Planning summit in London in July 2012

The UK Government is working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and partners to host a Family Planning summit in London in July 2012.  The event will aim to generate unprecedented political commitment and resources from developing countries, donors, the private sector, civil society and other partners to meet the family planning needs of women in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.

Planet under Pressure

Over 3000 scientists and others attended this international gathering in London.  The conference concluded that “Global sustainability must become a foundation of society”.  Many attendees showed interest in our population stall, mounted jointly by Population Matters, Population Institute, Population Institute Canada, the Population Media Centre, Rotarian Action Group for Population Growth and Sustainable Development and Sustainable Population Australia.  The conference’s final declaration is here.

Two petitions

Two relevant petitions:
-    on the criminalisation of emergency contraception in Honduras  
-    on reproductive health in the Philippines

Gerontologist Professor Sarah Harper on falling fertility and ageing populations

This video has been recommended by several members.


Mother, from Population Matters and the Royal Society of Medicine

Population Matters Patron Lionel Shriver and Trustee Dr Pip Hayes will be taking part in a panel discussion following the showing of the film Mother: Caring for 7 Billion.  The event, organised jointly by Population Matters and the Royal Society of Medicine, takes place on Tuesday 24 April at RSM, 1 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 0AE. The doors are at 6.00pm with the screening at 6.30pm.  The screening will be followed by a ‘question time’ discussion.

Population Matters members can book tickets at a reduced members rate of £9.00. If you are unable to get to the screening, you can find out more about the film, including details of how to purchase or rent a copy, on the film's website.

About Mother, the film. “Today, nearly 1 billion people still suffer from chronic hunger even though the Green Revolution that has fed billions will soon come to an end due to the diminishing availability of its main ingredients - oil and water. Compounded with our ravenous appetite for natural resources, population growth is putting an unprecedented burden on the life system we all depend on, as we refuse to face the fact that more people equals more problems.

PM Chair addresses Ethical Society – 6 May Conway Hall, London

Roger Martin, chair of Population Matters, discusses the numerous ethical implications of population growth at a Sunday Lecture - The Ethics of Reproduction on a Finite Planet at 11.00. Tickets are £3 on the door.


Membership fee change

The fee for some categories of membership will increase from 1st April 2012.  This is the first increase for two years and is in response to rising inflation and the costs associated with our increasing activity levels.  Fee rates are still well below most other campaigning groups.  The rate for those who pay monthly is unchanged.

More research papers

Several additional papers written or sponsored by Population Matters have recently been added to the website.  See the website for details.

Additional school materials/education project

We have added significant additional third party material for schools to the website and are developing our own resources.  If you would like to be involved in this, please let us know.

BOOK REVIEW from Population Matters Chair, Roger Martin

"World on the Edge" by Lester Brown (President, Earth Policy Institute)  

After a clear and dire analysis of current unsustainability, the author offers 'Plan B' to save the world, comprising "four components: stabilising climate; restoring the Earth's natural support systems; stabilising population; and eradicating poverty." He gives fairly detailed costings for each of these, totalling $185 billion additional funding per year; and arguing for a saner view of 'Defence', points out that this sum is equivalent to only 28% of the US military budget, or 12% of the world military budget.  Although some may find several of his prescriptions and costings unrealistic, it's a good up-beat read - and a powerful positive message for us to quote.

This issue was edited by marketing manager Matt Williams and distributed by administrator Julie Lewis.

Population Matters is the working name of the Optimum Population Trust. It is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales. Registered charity no. 1114109. Registered company no. 3019081. Registered office as above.