At this panel discussion, Stuart Scott, (Founder of United Planet Faith & Science Initiative) introduces the panel speakers on the subject of Global Population Growth and its effects on the planet’s Climate, held at COP 22, Marrakech.
Scott poses a rhetorical question: ‘Population – How do we avoid catastrophic climate change without addressing our booming population’?, and introduces a short video by Laurie Goering titled ‘What does population mean for climate change’?, whereafter he introduces the session subject: Exploring the link between population and climate change.
Nalini Singh (Program-Manager, Asian Pacific Research At& Resource Center for Women, Malaysia) speaks on Sexual Reproduction and Health Rights (SRHR), as defined by the UN, WHO and ICPD, based on two key concepts, i.e. The Right to make decisions on reproduction and sexuality, free from discrimination, coercion and violence and The Right to the highest standard of sexual reproductive health. As quoted by Nalini Singh: “In the work that we do, we advocate for comprehensive quality, universal sexual reproductive health information and services to all”, unquote.
In a question posed to the panel by Scott, viz; How are SRHR, population dynamics and climate change linked? The panellists responded as follows:
Raymond Ruyoka (Advocacy Officer, Reproductive Health, Uganda) – the link is diverse in sense of the impact of high population numbers and the pressure on natural resources and the environment, a case in point is my country, Uganda, the population increases every year by 3%, that means in next 10 years it will have increased to 50%, placing an ever increasing pressure on the resources and environment, making the need for SRHR services and a contraception plan very necessary, in order to control population growth, and especially family planning which would assist greatly in reducing the impact and pressure on natural resources and the environment, ultimately helping to address climate change in the long-run.
Zerihun Dejene Fittheawek (Population Health Environment, Ethiopia) – when we talk about climate change adaptation it means reducing vulnerability, i.e. reducing vulnerabilities of our systems, segments of the communities in terms of resilience and general reduction in systems, structures and human elements in terms of capability improvement for resilience.
Scott then introduced a video series titled, ‘ The Five Indicators of Climate Change and their Impact on Women’, and asked the panel to comment accordingly. The five indicators are –
* Increased droughts are causing food and water shortages, impacting women and girls in rural areas: walking great distances for water, sexual violence and harassment and quitting school to do household chores.
* Agricultural and Livelihood crises leading to Poverty, Food Insecurity, severe Malnutrition and compromised general and Reproductive health.
* Rising Sea levels are infiltrating freshwater sources with disastrous effects on agriculture and coastal life with water contamination posing serious threats to all, particularly children and pregnant women.
* Climate change is leading to acute natural disasters forcing large populations to migrate. Climate-induced migration leads to feminisation of poverty.
* Socially constructed gender inequalities together with socio-economic patterns leads to higher female mortality rates.
Nalini Singh spoke briefly on various slides introduced on ‘Women Stories from the Climate Frontline’ from countries like Laos, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, with slides.
A synopsis of some key statements during the panel discussion, viz;
Nalini Singh – ‘the discussion of Population must not focus on population size, but rather on building healthy, happy and resilient communities’.
Stuart Scott – ‘It is important for us to realise that each person on this planet contributes towards climate change and that the responsibility to manage the overall contribution lies not only within the governments and environmental enthusiasts but with US ALL’!
United Planet Faith & Science Initiative
SRHR Allilance – Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Population Health Environment
Pacific Research & Resource Center for Women, Malaysia