News Article27/11/2009

Family planning to tackle climate change

Chinese workers walking away from chimney stacks
London - Marie Stopes International is leading the global discussion on the ways in which family planning could be used to combat climate change.

MSI has been at the forefront of the debate and was mentioned heavily in the global media recently thanks to a ground-breaking paper on the links between climate change and women’s reproductive health needs in developing countries. The lead researcher and author of the article, published in November’s Bulletin of the World Health Organisation (WHO), was MSI’s Leo Bryant.

Climate change continues to be a hot topic, particularly With the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen coming up in early December. However the link between family planning and environmental impact has been largely overlooked. Some have suggested family planning could help to reduce carbon emissions while others are concerned that this is tantamount to ’blaming climate change on the fertility of the poor’. But MSI is not an organisation to shy away from difficult and neglected subjects.

The angle MSI has taken does not focus on reducing carbon emissions but on empowering women to cope with climate change. This ‘adaptation’ approach reflects concerns articulated by governments in developing countries who will be worst affected.

The research published in the Bulletin is based upon a literature review of climate change adaptation strategies – or ‘National Adaptation Programmes of Action’ (NAPAs) – written by developing country governments. The findings highlight that 37 of the 40 strategies sampled identified ‘rapid population growth’ as a factor that either causes or exacerbates environmental damage. The article concludes that efforts to improve voluntary access to family planning should therefore be integrated into climate change adaptation strategies in order to better support communities struggling to cope.

The release of the research generated at least 50 articles worldwide and was covered by major news sources including Reuters, Bloomberg, Fox News and The New York Times. It also generated a number of articles on websites ranging from to as well as postings on various blog sites. The UK’s leading medical journal The Lancet also ran an editorial picked up by further newswire services including The Associated Press and The Daily Telegraph.

With the UN Copenhagen conference on climate change already grabbing headlines this discussion will continue to be a hot issue and MSI is at the forefront.

You can view the full article on the WHO website.


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