Population and the environment

Our numbers have a huge effect on our natural environment. The more of us there are, the bigger the impact on nature. Human population growth is a key driver of biodiversity loss, resource depletion, deforestation, climate emissions and pollution.

In the 1970s, Population Matters Patron Paul Ehrlich and his colleague John Holdren developed an equation to describe our impact on the environment:

I = P x A x T

Where "I" is impact, "P" is population, "A" is affluence and "T" is technology. The "IPAT" equation shows that our numbers, how we live, and the technology we use all have an effect on our finite environment.

See our latest news stories and blog posts about the environment below.

Population Matters campaigners in New York
25 September 2020

PM supporters call for UN action

Last year we launched a petition calling on the United Nations to take action on population. People from 128 countries signed up, and we have submitted it to the UN today, to mark five years since the Sustainable Development Goals were introduced.

Read more

The Unmet Contraceptive Needs of Women and Girls

Briefings and submissions

A four page summary outlining the unmet contraceptive needs of women and girls globally and the relationship between the provision of modern family planning and social and environmental issues.

Download
26 September 2020

Reproductive Healthcare: The Missing Link

A new study released highlights the importance of ensuring universal access to modern reproductive healthcare to achieving the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. To mark World Contraception Day, Population Matters calls for increased funding to the UNFPA to fulfill unmet modern contraceptive needs. 

Read more

14 September 2020

Relationships & Sex Education: Teach Everyone Every Aspect

The theme of this year's UK Sexual Health Week is relationships and sex education. In this guest blog post, Dr. Rebecca Foljambe, founder of RSE charity and Empower to Plan partner You Before Two, reflects on a discussion with some of her young students. 

Read more

Leopard
11 September 2020

You can't stop extinctions by ignoring the number of people

WWF’s new Living Planet Report provides a clear picture of humanity’s destruction of nature, but doesn’t provide us with the missing link – solving population growth.

Read more

7 September 2020

The Kibra youths protecting their communities and environment

Population Matters Campaigner Katrina Dixon reflects on what we have achieved through our Empower to Plan programme so far this year, and the continued support needed for the people of Kibra slum in Kenya.

Read more

30 September 2020

UN Summit on Biodiversity

The United Nations Summit on Biodiversity will be convened by the President of the General Assembly on 30 September 2020, at the level of Heads of State and Government under the theme of “Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development.”

Read more

19 September 2020 to 26 September 2020

UN Global Week to #Act4SDGs

The 2020 Global Week to Act4SDGs, on September 18-26, is a joint call to action for everyone - leaders, citizens, organisations and institutions - to accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Read more

Densely packed buildings
28 August 2020

It's time to end harmful population denial

Population Matters Director Robin Maynard debunks writer George Monbiot's claims that addressing the population issue is "blaming the poor" and "racist", and explains why population denial hurts everyone, especially the world's most vulnerable.

Read more

Small family in woods
22 August 2020

Earth Overshoot Day: How smaller families shrink our ecological footprint

Today is Earth Overshoot Day, the day on which humanity has used up all the natural resources that the Earth can produce within a year. This means that from tomorrow, we are effectively in ecological overshoot, leading to resource depletion and destruction of nature. Population Matters Senior Communications Officer Olivia Nater explains how empowering people to choose a small family size helps us live within our planetary boundaries.

Read more