Population Matters

UN body ignores population growth

UN body ignores population growth

The United Nations General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals has issued a draft proposal on the composition of the sustainable development goals for consideration by the United Nations General Assembly.

Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, commented, “We are extremely disappointed that the draft omits population growth, given the impact that it has on most of the goals.”


World population, which has tripled in 60 years from 2.5 billion in 1950 to more than seven billion today, is projected to grow to 9.5 billion by 2050 and 11 billion by 2100.

Population growth:

  • increases demand for supplies, services and infrastructure and thus makes it harder for them to reach an appropriate level of quality and coverage;
  • reduces the resources available for the above as such resources are diverted into consumption;
  • in the short term, reduces available human resources, which are diverted into childrearing; and
  • increases pressure on the environment and limited resources.

The goals impeded by population growth comprise:

  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere;
  • Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture;
  • Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages;
  • Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all;
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all;
  • Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all;
  • Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation;
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable;
  • Man carrying crops

    Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns;

  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts;
  • Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development; and
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Some of the goals could contribute to lower birth rates:

  • Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all;
  • Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and
  • Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

We particularly welcome the contribution to lower birth rates of:

  • 3.7 By 2030 ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes; and
  • 5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the ICPD and the Beijing Platform for
    Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.

However, a striking omission is educating individuals and families about the benefits of small families.

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