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20,000 scientists ignored – groups call for urgent action

9 July 2018 embargoed, 00.00 10 July 2018

20,000 leading scientists ignored by policy makers – groups call for urgent action

As World Population Day approaches, governments are urged to act

London – Population Matters is joining sustainable population organisations across the globe on July 11, World Population Day 2018, in calling on governments and policy-makers to take urgent action in response to the warning supported by 15,000 scientists when first released last November, regarding our planet’s worsening environmental crisis.

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice warned that runaway consumption of limited resources by a rapidly growing population is crippling the Earth’s life-support systems and jeopardising our future. Identifying population as a “primary driver” of the crisis, the Warning’s recommended actions include reducing fertility rates through education and family planning, and rallying political leaders behind the goal of establishing a sustainable human population.

Following a lack of any meaningful response to the warning – which since its release has been endorsed by an additional 5,000 scientists – groups from the US, UK, Australia, Canada and France have issued a joint statement (below) which they are sending to their respective governments and political leaders. The statement calls on governments to detail what action they are taking on all 13 of the Scientists’ Warning’s action points, and to endorse the warning.

Population Matters has sent the statement to the Prime Minister, First Ministers of Scotland and Wales and the Leader of the Opposition.

Robin Maynard, director of Population Matters, says:

“It beggars belief that politicians globally are failing to heed and act on a warning of this gravity, especially when it comes from such aauthoritative range of scientific expertiseOur world and the wellbeing of future generations is hanging in the balance.  Climate change and the accelerating damage to our wildlife are evidence of the environmental crisis we are already experiencing – the World Scientist’s Warning is an emergency call for action to avert an even greater global catastrophe.

“Unlike most politicians, these 20,000 scientists from countries across the world have the courage and honesty to highlight the failure to address population growth as a primary driver of this crisis – and we endorse their emphasis on rational, ethical and achievable solutions.  The World Scientists’ Warning echoes the common-sense words of Population Matters patron Sir David Attenborough, ‘All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people, and harder — and ultimately impossible — to solve with ever more people.’ ”

The global partnership of population groups’ statement is copied below and available online here.


 Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communicatins, Population Matters:

T: 0208 123 9170

Contact details for representatives of other organisations available on request.

Global Statement & Call to Action

World Population Day July 11, 2018

Twenty-six years ago, 1,700 of the world’s leading scientists urged humankind to curtail environmental destruction and improve our stewardship of the Earth, in order to attain a sustainable future.

In 2017, the Alliance of World Scientists published a Second Warning to Humanity, supported by over 20,000 scientists in 184 countries, pointing to runaway consumption of limited resources by a still rapidly growing population. It warned that:

 “Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse.”

 “…We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats”

Their warning calls for changes in public policy and individual behaviors. It lists 13 policy measures essential to safeguarding our future, including “estimating a scientifically defensible, sustainable human population size for the long term while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal.”

Actions people can take as individuals include “limiting our own reproduction” and “drastically diminishing” our per capita resource consumption.

Our lack of adequate and appropriate action since 1992 risks condemning our children to a bleak and challenging future. The global population has grown by more than two billion people. Hard-won progress in human rights and social justice is at risk.

As in 1992, the Second Warning has not received the attention it demands. To mark World Population Day (11 July), the undersigned organizations call on national governments and international institutions to respond to the Warning to Humanity with urgent action. Specifically, we call on them to:

 ·         Detail what actions they intend to take regarding the 13 specific policy prescriptions it lays out, including promoting a sustainable population size.

·         Endorse the Scientists Warning to Humanity at,

All signatories to this statement are committed to the goal of a sustainable world population, achieved through ethical, humane and non-coercive means that fully respect human rights.


Démographie Responsible (France)

Population Institute (US)

Population Institute Canada

Population Matters (UK)

Population Media Center (US)

Sustainable Population Australia

World Population Balance (US)


NOTE: This statement and call is made with the knowledge of but entirely independently from the Alliance of World Scientists.



The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: a Second Notice was published in Bioscience on 13 November 2017, and was supported by 15,364 scientists. Since its publication, a further 5,146 scientists have signed in support and the warning is now open for endorsement by individuals, scientists and organisations at

Its action points are:

(a) prioritizing the enactment of connected well-funded and well-managed reserves for a significant proportion of the world’s terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial habitats;

(b) maintaining nature’s ecosystem services by halting the conversion of forests, grasslands, and other native habitats;

(c) restoring native plant communities at large scales, particularly forest landscapes;

(d) rewilding regions with native species, especially apex predators, to restore ecological

processes and dynamics;

(e) developing and adopting adequate policy instruments to remedy defaunation, the poaching crisis, and the exploitation and trade of threatened species;

(f) reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure;

(g) promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods;

(h) further reducing fertility rates by ensuring that women and men have access to education and voluntary family-planning services, especially where such resources are still lacking;

(i) increasing outdoor nature education for children, as well as the overall engagement of society in the appreciation of nature;

(j) divesting of monetary investments and purchases to encourage positive environmental change;

(k) devising and promoting new green technologies and massively adopting renewable energy sources while phasing out subsidies to energy production through fossil fuels;

(l) revising our economy to reduce wealth inequality and ensure that prices, taxation, and incentive systems take into account the real costs which consumption patterns impose on our environment; and

(m) estimating a scientifically defensible, sustainable human population size for the long term while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal.

The notice was issued 25 years after a first World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity was issued in 1992

World Population Day falls on 11 July every year. Intended to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, it was established by the then-Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989. The United nations’ chosen theme this year is “Family planning is a human right”.

Population Matters is a campaigning charity that addresses population size and environmental sustainability. We believe population growth contributes to environmental degradation, resource depletion, poverty and inequality. Population Matters works to promote positive, ethical solutions – encouraging smaller families, reducing excessive consumption and helping us all to live within our planet’s natural limits

135-137 Station Road, London E4 6AG

Tel: 0208 123 9116

Charity No: 1114109


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