Action on population and consumption

15 June 2012


Academics and world leaders are calling for decisive action on population and consumption.

The world’s 105 science academies representing countries as diverse as South Africa, Latvia, Japan, Nicaragua, Bolivia, the UK and New Zealand, have come together through IAP (the global network of science academies) ahead of the Rio+20 Earth summit later this month.

Chairing the IAP working group is Professor Charles Godfray from the Oxford Martin School who stressed the need for urgent and coordinated international action to address two of the most profound challenges to humanity – population and consumption.

“For too long population and consumption have been left off the table due to political and ethical sensitivities. These are issues that affect us all, developed and developing nations alike, and we must take responsibility for them together. Policymakers have an extraordinary opportunity to seize the initiative at the international summit in Rio and we hope that they will choose to take account of the sound, evidence-based advice of their own academies of science as they make decisions that will affect the future of the planet,” said Godfray.

The academies’ statement highlights that current patterns of consumption, especially in high-income countries, are eroding the planet’s natural capital at rates that are severely damaging the interests of future generations, and should consequently and urgently be reduced. It also highlights that, if the right conditions are in place, reducing rapid population growth can stimulate and facilitate economic development, improve health and living standards, and increase political and social stability and security. The statement emphasises the relevance of population and consumption to the future of both developed and developing countries.

Read the IAP statement, recommendations and key actions.