UNFPAState of World Population 2004
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HOME: STATE OF WORLD POPULATION 2004: Population and the Environment
State of World Population
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Population and Poverty
Population and the Environment
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Population and the Environment

Population’s Impact on Resource Use
Poverty and Ecological Stress
Gender Dimensions of Environmental Change

Poverty and Ecological Stress

While consumers, particularly in the wealthiest countries, are doing the most to reshape the natural world through their use of resources and products, fastgrowing populations in the poorest, least-developed countries also have an impact. Here, biodiversity is often high and environmental degradation already widespread.

Poor populations in many biodiversity-rich regions—largely rural areas where good health facilities, schools, and basic infrastructure are frequently absent—often have no other options but to exploit their local environment to meet subsistence needs for food and fuel.

In these settings, traditional practices that may have been ecologically viable when the population was small are becoming increasingly less viable for species and ecosystems as population grows and demands rise. The trade in bush meat in Central Africa, for instance, has accelerated to such a degree that the future of forest-dwelling animals, including primates, is in jeopardy.(8)

ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH. From polluted air to contaminated water to toxins in food, the health of the environment can affect human health in complex ways. Both women and men are exposed to an increasing number of environmental hazards, especially in poor communities. In rural areas, farmers and labourers often come in contact with an array of pesticides, solvents, and unknown toxins; some of these have an effect on reproductive health, with a disproportionate impact on women.(9)

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