The people have spoken. Britain will leave the European Union. What does it mean for population concern?
To some extent, it means little. Population and sustainability are fundamental issues, affecting mankind and, of course, other species, worldwide. Issues such as water stress, food security, biodiversity collapse and climate change are bigger than political configurations. When the United Kingdom is outside the European Union, we shall continue to campaign for a sustainable future, both for the UK and globally.
On the other hand, Britain’s historically high migration level was at the centre of the campaign, and migration is undoubtedly a component of population. On this, as in other policy areas, the British government will negotiate new arrangements with the European Union. Our position is that large scale unbalanced migration makes it harder for destination countries to move towards a sustainable future. Migratory pressures will continue, both ‘push’ factors from countries of origin and ‘pull’ factors from those institutions in the UK which benefit from migration.
Regarding ‘push’, we believe that population growth is a principal underlying driver of migratory pressures and that it is therefore in the interests of all that programmes that reduce population growth be fully supported. We celebrate the Family Planning 2020 partnership. We support community education programmes such as those provided by the Population Media Center. We urge the promotion of the personal, social and environmental benefits of smaller families. We endorse efforts to improve the position of women, young people and those in poverty.
Regarding ‘pull’, we urge the UK government and society to commit to sustainable employment. This means that the work required to support the UK population is done by the UK population, without continuing to rely on an unsustainably unbalanced inflow of workers. This means making education relevant to available opportunities and expanding vocational education and genuine apprenticeships. It means supporting adults to improve their skills and supporting paths to work for the underemployed, older workers and parents. Finally, it means investing in technology to reduce workforce requirements. These measures are just as important in addressing unsustainable flows as strengthening residency rules and enforcement.