Population developments in times of climate change

Bern, Press release, 20.11.2009

The climate cannot be stabilised merely by technical solutions. Gender equality and the fight against poverty are complementary approaches that also need to be taken into account at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. This is the recommendation of the UN State of the World Population Report which was presented in Bern on Friday, with accompanying comments by SDC director Mr Dahinden.

Poverty and the frequently inter-related over-use of natural resources  is a key factor in global warming. "The fight against climate change is not just a technological or a financial question. There is also a demographic dimension, which we should include in our policies" said Werner Haug of the United Nations World Population Fund. Mr Haug pointed out that the majority of poor people are women. If the situation of women is improved, poverty can be combated in the long term, thus contributing to the stabilisation of the climate.

"Investments in training and health for girls and women has been a major priority for Swiss development aid for many years" said SDC director Martin Dahinden. The SDC finances basic medical health care projects which have reduced the mortality rates for mothers and infants in Mozambique, Moldava and other partner countries. Information campaigns and family planning have helped to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and to cut the birth rate, he added.

Empowerment of women strengthens resistance to the consequences of climate change. Women with higher levels of education and with access to reproductive health services are also likely to have smaller and healthier families. Lower birth rates lead to slower growth in CO2 emissions. The State of World Population 2009 Report states that the fight against climate change has better chances of success if the rights, needs and potential of women in climate policy is taken into account.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)  was founded in 1967 and is the central UN body for population issues. Switzerland has been working together with the UNFPA 1973 and supports its core priorities, especially in the area of the promotion of women.

Further information:

state of world population 2009
Mandate of the United Nations Population Fund
Dossier - Climate change

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