Summary: Working Group on Environment, Trade and Sustainable Development
Population and Sustainable Development: Impact of Demographic Changes on the Environment, including Food Security
||16 July 2002, 14:00-15:30 Updated: VK 12:37 PM 2002-11-27
Moderator(s):|| • Mr. Urs Thomas, University of Geneva (UNIGE)|
Presenters/ Participants:|| • Mr. Alphonse Macdonald, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)|
• Mr. Rolf Steppacher, Graduate Institute for Development Studies (IUED)
||Luis Alberto Portugal Perez, Anna-Maria Lancianese (ICVolunteers)
||Demographic transition, population growth, food security
As a way to continue with the discussion on issues of sustainable development, Mr. Urs Thomas, Professor at the University of Geneva,
summarized the impact of population and demographic changes on the environment, including food security.
Mr. Rolf Steppacher, of the Graduate Institute for Development
Studies, summarized the multi-dimensional link between population (growth rate),
state (cultural values, institutions, citizens), technique (knowledge, technology and
resources) and development, through the schema:
Population * State * Technique >> Development.
He described the difference between mineral and biotic resources and their importance to sustainable development. In describing the differences between property and possessions, Mr. Steppacher emphasized that the dialectical relationship between property and natural resources is the factor that exerts a negative pressure on ecology. He concluded that no clear solution for the future is
Mr. Alphonse MacDonald, of the United Nations Population Fund, focused on the three-dimensional relationship between
population, environment and sustainable development. He stressed the role of demographic transition, focusing on the temporary gap between the reduction in death rates as a consequence of a temporary increase in population growth rates
—demographic transition— and stressed its role in the acceleration of population growth in developing countries.
Expanding population leading to increase of consumption of resources
After the presentation, participants from Switzerland, Argentina and the United States pointed out that an expanding population could represent an increase in demand for and therefore in consumption of resources, and could become a threat to inter-generational equity. Mr. MacDonald stressed the importance of government intervention to control population booms through birth control (as in China) or subsidizing family planning and information-sharing campaigns.
A participant from the United States asked the panelists if industrialized countries should open their frontiers to migrants in order to solve the problem of the pension system, where young workers contribute directly to retired pensioners. In the course of the discussion, it
became clear that the pension systems needed to be reformed to avoid that direct inter-generational payment transfer.
The importance of governmental policy to control population growth was stressed, especially family planning campaigns in order to ensure future food security and protect the environment. Also important is the need for
industrialized countries to help in the financing of family planning as the developing countries currently bear most of the burden for this themselves.
Presenters' Documents Available
16.11_hauselmann_pierre.ppt (57 K)
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