Population Matters

People & story

People & story


Our people comprise our patrons, our council, our board, our team and our members.

  • Our patrons from the worlds of the arts, science and the media give us their valuable endorsement.
  • Our advisory council guides us on key decisions and provides an independent external perspective.
  • Our president is our ambassador to international events and a contact point for our patrons.
  • Our board governs the organization.
  • Our staff, contractors and volunteers develop, manage and implement our strategy, operational plans and activities.
  • Our members run into the thousands and are crucial in supporting us and spreading our message.
  • Guarantor membership is available to those members who have demonstrated their support through being active on our behalf. Guarantor members vote at our Annual General Meetings.

Population Matters activists

Joining us

We welcome applications from members who wish to volunteer their time. There are no permanent staff roles currently available. Applicants for placements and internships should submit a curriculum vitae and two examples of their work and should indicate the preferred timing and nature of their engagement with us.


Crowded streetPopulation Matters was launched as the Optimum Population Trust following a meeting on 24 July 1991 by the late David Willey and others concerned about population numbers and sustainability. They were impelled to act by the failure of United Kingdom governments to respond to a series of recommendations regarding population growth and sustainability.

Their goals were to collect, analyse and disseminate information about the sizes of global and national populations and to link this to a study of carrying capacities and inhabitants’ quality of life in order to support policy decisions. The organization prepared analyses and lobbied on issues affected by population growth, including welfare, education, labour supply, population ageing, immigration and the environment. It also lobbied developmental and environmental campaigners on the need to incorporate population issues in their thinking. Read about the history of population concern.

Prominent past personnel

Past chairs, in chronological order, were:

  • David Willey
  • Edmund Davey
  • Rosamund McDougall and John Guillebaud
  • John Guillebaud
  • Val Stevens
  • Sue Birley
  • Val Stevens
  • Roger Martin

Congested Traffic

Other prominent past office-holders include: Company Secretary, Membership Secretary and Treasurer, Yvette Willey, the widow of David Willey, our founder; Martin Desvaux, who contributed to developing our ecological population footprinting material; Journal founder and editor Andrew Ferguson; David Nicholson-Lord, joint Policy Director with Rosamund McDougall, and magazine editor Bill Partridge. Read about founding member, Jack Parsons.

The organization was granted charitable status in 2006 and adopted Population Matters as its public name in 2011. We provide information on coverage and events for the period 2002 to 2010.

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