Population Matters today announced a new annual award: the Population and Sustainability Awareness Award for the person, programme or institution doing most to promote public debate on population growth. The first recipient will be Sir Richard Ottaway MP, who is standing down at the next election.
Sir Richard, who was Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health from 1992 – 95 and has been Vice-Chair ever since, has a long record of clear analyses of the problems. He was a prime motivator behind the Group’s 2007 report Return of the Population Growth Factor: Its Impact on the Millennium Development Goals. The Group concluded convincingly that population growth had a serious aggravating impact on the prospects of achieving all of the Goals: eradicating poverty; providing universal education; promoting gender equality; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating disease; and ensuring environmental sustainability.
Sir Richard has also been a strong supporter of the Population and Sustainability Network; and with researcher Genevieve Hutchison, has coauthored a book entitled Sex, Ideology and Religion: 10 Myths about Population Growth.
More recently in March 2014, in the onerous role of Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, he led the production of the report The UK’s Response to Extremism and Instability in North and West Africa, which stressed the links between rapid population growth and political instability, saying presciently, “We believe that the United Kingdom government should continue to impress on its international partners the need for international action to extend the availability of family planning in the Western Sahel”. Population Matters has long been aware of these links and their solution, but until Sir Richard’s report, this aspect had been almost universally ignored.
Population Matter Chair Roger Martin said, “We are delighted that Sir Richard has accepted this award. For years, he has been all too rare an example of a politician willing to address the issue of population growth head-on, in the interest of achieving sustainable prosperity for all our children. We hope to continue working with him in his retirement.”