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Statement in response to The Economics of Biodiversity: the Dasgupta Review

Population Matters media release

2 February 2021, immediate use

Statement in response to The Economics of Biodiversity: the Dasgupta Review

Robin Maynard, director of Population Matters, says:

 “Sir Partha Dasgupta’s review addresses the complexity of the drivers and challenges of our biodiversity crisis in the depth it really deserves. Its analysis shouts out what so many other such reports have just whispered: tackling population growth must be done, and can be done. Be it through unsustainable economic growth, increased demand for food and water or accelerating climate change, a growing global population is one of the critical drivers of extinctions and if we’re to stand any chance of getting ourselves out of this crisis, we can’t ignore any of them.

 “The report highlights how we can do that for the benefit of people and planet: family planning is grossly underfunded while hundreds of millions of women have an unmet need for safe, modern contraception. Women’s empowerment, poverty alleviation, universal education and family planning are basic rights, both essential to human wellbeing and for protecting our planet. Ignoring population as so many environmental groups have done for too long is no longer tenable. There are multiple solutions needed – this is one.”

Sir Partha is a patron of Population Matters.

CONTACT: Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications

T: 0208 123 9170 (24hrs)

E: alistair.currie@populationmatters.org

Notes for editors

The Dasgupta Review The Economics of Biodiversity The Dasgupta Review: Abridged Version (publishing.service.gov.uk)

Selected quotations from the report:

Growing human populations have significant implications for our demands on Nature, including for future patterns of global consumption.

As well as improving women’s access to finance, information and education, support for community-based family planning programmes can shift preferences and behaviour, and accelerate the demographic transition. There has been significant underinvestment in such programmes. Addressing that shortfall, even if the effects may not be apparent in the short-term, is essential.

As the global population grows, the problem of producing sufficient food in a sustainable manner will only intensify.

The global ecological footprint depends on the absolute population size. A population can be stable, but if large it would have a big footprint, other things equal, and could bring the biosphere into disrepair. 

Nature responds to the demands we make of it, it does not calculate rates of change in demands, nor rates of change of rates of change in demands. When ecosystems tip over into unproductive states, the shift cannot usually be reversed (in exceptional circumstances it can be, but only at great cost). Globally, if a few more planetary boundaries … are breached by year 2070, differences in population projections for year 2100 will count for little. 

The main section addressing population in the report is Section 7, found on p34 of the abridged version.

Digest of selected key evidence of the impact of population on biodiversity in Population Matters briefing on human population and biodiversity. Further references available from PM (contact details above) on request. 

See also Crowded Planet Resource Library, a database of academic papers related to the environmental impact of biodiversity

The role of population as a key indirect driver of biodiversity loss was identified in the Intergovernmental Science-Policy platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Global assessment summary for policymakers (2019). The assessment stated: ““changes to the direct drivers of nature deterioration cannot be achieved without transformative change that simultaneously addresses the indirect drivers.”

Population Matters is a UK-based campaigning charity, promoting a sustainable global population through ethical, choice-based means, to improve people’s lives and protect the natural world.


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Charity no: 1114109


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