By the end of the century, scientists expect the global population to reach nearly 11 billion. That’s almost four billion more people than are alive right now.
When you think about population growth, it’s pretty easy to see how it can disturb the environment: more resources used, more energy produced, more housing needed, more food consumed, etc. Over one billion people currently live in biodiversity hotspots, and that number is rapidly increasing.
But what you may not think about is how much of a positive effect family planning can have on the environment and women’s health.
Groups like the Sierra Club and Population Action International (PAI) are actively working to integrate population, health, and environment (PHE) into government plans in the U.S. and around the world, especially in countries like Niger where the average woman has 7.03 children and the unmet need for family planning is high. To put that into perspective, if each woman alive today between the ages of 15 and 44 had 7.03 children--that’s roughly 1.6 billion women--they would have 11.3 billion children.
“When couples can plan the number, timing, and spacing of their children, that helps the environment and the economy,” said Beverly Johnson, chief of the Policy, Evaluation, and Communication Division of the USAID Office of Population and Reproductive Health.
The more women that have access to family planning, the better their quality of life, and the better it is for the environment. When women are able to make their own choices in reproductive health, the whole world benefits.
The community of groups that work on PHE focuses on five main ideas: health, population, environment, food security, and livelihoods. Their goal is to address the day-to-day challenges of women and to integrate these ideas in a comprehensive way.
And PHE can be found all around the world.