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Royal Society Report Calls For Renewed Global Action To Slow Population Growth, Reduce Consumption

“Over-consumption in rich countries and rapid population growth in the poorest both need to be tackled to put society on a sustainable path,” according to a report by an expert group convened by the Royal Society, BBC News reports (Black, 4/25). The report “concludes that tackling global inequality is central to solving the problem of too many people exploiting dwindling natural resources,” the Independent writes (Connor, 4/26). “‘Population and consumption should no longer be regarded as separate issues,’ said Sir John Sulston, chair of the international working group that prepared the study,” according to the Financial Times (Cookson, 4/26). “Firm recommendations include giving all women access to family planning, moving beyond [gross domestic product (GDP)] as the yardstick of economic health and reducing food waste,” BBC notes.

“The report, published on Thursday, is a sign of how population control is moving back up the international political agenda after last year’s announcement by the U.N. that the number of people on Earth had exceeded seven billion and would reach as many as 11 billion in 2050,” according to the Financial Times (4/26). “Professor Sarah Harper of Oxford University, another of the authors, said the issue of population had fallen off the development agenda in the last 10-15 years but it should be reinstated and coupled closely with environmental challenges, starting at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio in June,” Reuters writes (Wickham, 4/25).