FP/Earth, a project supported by the Population Institute, is striving to advance the discussion on the synergy between reproductive autonomy and environmental sustainability. We survey the field of health and environmental research for well-documented and evaluated data shedding light on how the use of family planning might relate to climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable fresh water supply, soil fertility, food security, the maintenance of biological diversity, the future of forests and fisheries, and more. We are also a platform for experts and students who wish to connect and exchange on this issue.
In 2016, under the sponsorship of the Worldwatch Institute and then called the Family Planning and Environmental Sustainability Assessment (FPESA), the project produced a report, available here. The report assessed peer-reviewed scientific research published from 2005 through 2015 on the family planning and environmental sustainability linkage.
FP/Earth continues to screen peer-reviewed and trustworthy literature on the family planning and environmental sustainability linkage. Our selected research database is updated bi-annually, and is available here.
FP/Earth seeks to develop a network of researchers, students, policy makers and advocates, anyone interested in addressing and learning more about the family planning and environment linkage. Contact us to feature your work in our selected research library, to share an opinion, to be interviewed and showcase your work in our blog, to post a volunteer opportunity related to the family planning and environmental sustainability linkage, or to join our team of volunteers! If you would like to stay in touch with our work, sign up for our quarterly newsletter.
With global awareness of environmental degradation and climate change on the rise, there is renewed interest in the role of global population size and change for the sustainability of the planet. Taking actions that slow or eventually halt population growth, actions with multiple other benefits to health and the well-being of women, offer cost-effective ways to address climate change and environmental degradation. Removing existing barriers to family planning can help fulfil women and men’s reproductive rights, as well as bring positive environmental impacts. We believe that the positive impact of voluntary family planning on environmental sustainability needs to be acknowledged, promoted, and harnessed. We believe that a fair and balanced exploration of the evidence of these important connections can promote both better lives for girls and women worldwide while promoting health and a sustainable environment that will support human activities for generations to come.
Addressing family planning in relation to environmental sustainability can be a sensitive matter. Many perceive that linking family planning with environmental sustainability can represent a threat to reproductive rights, to a healthy economy, and to global equity. We ground our approach to the family planning and environmental sustainability linkage in the following axioms:
- First, nothing in our approach may undermine the fundamental equality of all persons and the exercise of environmental and reproductive justice.
- Reproductive rights, as defined at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, must be fulfilled and respected: “Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health”.
- Influencing global population size is one of many pathways to consider in our efforts to be more sustainable. Reducing population size on its own will not solve climate change and environmental degradation, but is part of a wider set of options to improve global sustainability.
- Access to and use of family planning reduces fertility and facilitates delayed and more widely spaced childbirths, slowing population growth.
- Empowering women through access to education and the free exercise of their reproductive rights leads to smaller families with more educational opportunities. In turn, family planning expands opportunities available to women and girls by reducing unintended pregnancy and facilitating personal choices on the number and timing of births.