Press Release

Population Key to Sustainable Development, Says New UNFPA Report

21 June 2012
Author: UNFPA

RIO DE JANEIRO — Countries need to promote sustainable patterns of production and consumption – which are the defining features of the green economy – but also address demographic change through human-rights based policies in order to achieve sustainability, a new UNFPA reports says.

The report, Population Matters for Sustainable Development, explains the links between population dynamics and sustainable development, as key to reducing the environmental impact of the 9 billion consumers the world is projected to have in about 30 years. The report was launched today at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) by Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

"Everywhere, but especially in emerging economies, millions more people are becoming richer consumers of goods and services, thus adding to pressures on natural resources. Sustainable patterns of consumption—enabled in part by appropriate technologies—are therefore urgently needed to improve the well-being of humanity now and into the future,” said Dr. Osotimehin.

Demographic shifts, such as the trend towards living in cities, can reduce strains on the environment by reducing consumption of resources. A fall in fertility will allow households and countries to increase investment in people and productive capacities.

"Slowing population growth can have a positive impact on environmental sustainability in the long run. It will also offer nations more time to adapt to changes in the environment. However, this can occur only if women have the right, the power and the means to decide freely how many children to have and when,” explained Dr. Osotimehin. The report stressed the need for universal access to reproductive health information and services for women and girls.

Governments also need to integrate population trends and future projections into their development strategies and policies. “Investments that are built on—and take advantage of—demographic trends can help transform populations into rich human capital that can propel sustainable development.”

For further information please contact:

In New York: Etienne Franca Telephone:  +1 212 297 5208   Email:

In Rio: Ulisses Lacava Telephone: +55 61 9181 1000  Email:


Population : 212.4 mil
Fertility rate
Maternal Mortality Ratio
Contraceptives prevalence rate
Population aged 10-24
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 80%
Girls 84%

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