Population Matters is calling for the next government to adopt a National Population Policy. With population growth affecting almost every aspect of national life, it is an issue that can no longer be sidelined or partially addressed on a piecemeal basis. If you are a UK citizen, please contact your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates to ask them to support the call.
The UK’s population is growing at a rate that has not been seen for more than 40 years. That growth affects people’s quality of life, their economic opportunities and the health of the environment they live in (learn more). It makes it more challenging to house everyone, to provide infrastructure and public services and for the UK to meet its international obligations in regard to climate change.
This comprehensive challenge demands an integrated and effective solution. The UK needs a National Population Policy which is managed and driven at the highest levels of government.
The policy should:
- Accurately determine future population growth in the UK and what factors and policies will affect it
- Assess the impact of population on other policy fields (such as climate change targets and public services) and integrate population policy into those areas
- Set targets for ending population growth and stabilising population at a sustainable level
- Develop an integrated policy framework to meet these targets, including through reducing the birth rate and reducing net migration
- Ensure the UK takes positive, effective action through aid and intergovernmental activity to support stabilising the global population
In addition to these basic requirements, the policy must recognise the impact of decisions made in the UK on other countries and ensure it meets all its obligations for refugees and asylum seekers. Achieving a stable and sustainable population in the UK can and must be done ethically and fairly, and while respecting the human rights of all who live in the UK and beyond.
Learn more about the National Population Policy.
Other election priorities
In addition to adopting a National Population Policy, there are other steps the next government should take to address population challenges at home and abroad.
- Protection of the existing 0.7% GDP principle in determining levels of overseas aid, and the devotion of increased levels of aid for education and family planning in developing countries with high fertility rates. 200m women worldwide have an unmet need for contraception, while length of education has a direct correlation with reduction in family size in developing countries.
- Ensuring family planning services in England are fully funded, to provide an effective service to all in need and reduce the levels of unwanted pregnancy. Currently, one-in-six pregnancies in the UK are unwanted.
- Provision of high quality, universal Sex and Relationships Education to all secondary school pupils. The UK currently has the highest level of teenage births in Western Europe.
Find out more about our General Election Campaign and how to take action.
Should every country have a population policy?
Dealing with our growing global population requires a global approach. Countries must work together through institutions like the UN to establish coordinated policies which put action and resources where they are most needed and which recognise the impact of national policies beyond a country’s own borders.
However, governments have the greatest power to make changes in their own countries and should adopt policies to stabilise their own populations at sustainable levels. Each country has different challenges, population dynamics and requirements and all will require to develop their own integrated policies. The basic principles outlined in our proposal will be relevant almost everywhere.
See our key facts about global population.