The third and final instalment in this series is:
“Once it was necessary that the people should multiply and be fruitful if the race was to survive. But now to preserve the race it is necessary that people hold back the power of propagation” – Helen Keller
There are nearly 7.5 billion people on Earth¹. Every second, this number grows along with the need for resources, such as food and water. This presents a dilemma: while the need for these resources increases, they are finite in quantity. In fact, recent analysis states that the limit that the Earth can support is 7.7 billion people².
The question is, how do we balance this growth with the limited resources we have?
One of the most important steps is providing access to contraception to those who cannot access it. This would reduce the number of unintended births, which currently sits at around 40% of all births globally³.
By slowing down population growth, the burden placed on food, water and energy resources would be reduced.
(i) THE ENVIRONMENT
Environmentally, reducing population growth by providing access to contraception reduces the impact of over-farming, overfishing and greenhouse gas emissions on the
environment. If the demand for contraceptive services were met, it would reduce the population to a sizeable number so that the world could meet one third of emission reductions required by 2050 to avoid irreversible environmental damage⁴.
(ii) PEACE AND PROSPERITY FOR ALL
Access to contraception would also have an impact on global security. Developing countries have large populations that place huge amounts of pressure on resources. This often may result in famines and food shortages, which which can spark political instability and conflict¹. Reducing this pressure by reducing the number of births would eventually ease the pressure, lending to a more stable and peaceful country¹.
For more information about how contraception could help achieve the SDGs watch this video by K4Health:
- Sustainable Population Australia (AU). The future is something we create [Internet]. Canberra, ACT (Australia): Sustainable Population Australia; 2017 [cited 2017 Feb 18]. Available from: https://www.population.org.au/
- van den Bergh J, Harmen Verbruggen. Spatial sustainability, trade and indicators: an evaluation of the ‘ecological footprint. Eco Econ.1999;29(1): 61–72. doi:10.1016/S0921-8009(99)00032-4
- Sedgh G, Singh S, Hussain R. Intended and Unintended Pregnancies Worldwide in 2012 and Recent Trends. Stud Fam Plan. 2014;45(3):301-14.
- Smith K. The population problem. Nature [internet]. 2008 [cited 2017 Feb 17]; 2 [about 3 p.]. Available from: Nature reports