Big issues deserve bold responses: Population and climate change in the Sahel

Potts M, Graves A.
Afr. J. Reprod. Health. 2013 Sept; 17(3): 9-11.


The London Summit on family planning in July 2012 represented a turning point in the willingness of governments and large philanthropic organizations to invest in family planning. The goal of the Summit was to meet 50% of the unmet need for family planning in developing countries. But we know from country-level data that when fertility falls, so does the desired family size. So we should aim to meet 100% of the current family planning need since unmet need will always prove a moving target – with demand for contraceptives growing as women have greater choices and realize they can be used safely. 

Any response to the problems set out above must be on a large scale and immediate. Business as usual is not acceptable. Obstetricians, physicians, development specialists, those committed to improving the status of women need to speak out in favor of universal, voluntary family planning. We have to help policymakers and other decision makers to understand the link between population and climate and remind them that demography is not destiny. We need to make the case that – while the cost of region-wide, integrated approaches are high – the cost of inaction is unacceptable. And we need to set much higher goals – because it is only when positive change happens on scale that societies can thrive.