CWPE investigates the reasons why a variety of environmental problems are defined or presented as population problems. It rejects the notion that population size and growth are primarily responsible for environmental degradation. This notion is created and spread by an alliance between the mainstream media, environmental organizations, and population control advocates, especially in the United States. In many countries even where population growth rates have fallen, environmental conditions continue to decline. The industrialized countries, which have the lowest population growth, are in fact the major consumers of the world's resources.

Environmental degradation derives from complex and interrelated causes:
  • Economic systems, with a drive for short-term and short-sighted gains and profits, exploit and misuse nature and people.

  • War-making and arms production destroy the natural environment, perpetuate the militarization of culture, hardening gender differences, and divert resources from human needs.

  • Disproportionate consumption patterns of the affluent the world over wreak havoc on the environment. Currently, the industrialized nations, with 22 percent of the world's population, consume 70 percent of the world's resources. Within the United States, deepening economic inequalities mean that the poor are consuming less, and the rich more.

  • Agribusiness, timber, mining, and energy corporations displace small farmers and indigenous peoples, often with encouragement and assistance from international financial institutions, and the complicity of national governments.

  • Migration from rural areas combined with inadequate planning and resource allocation in towns and cities result in rapid urbanization and intensify conditions of poverty.

  • New technologies often exploit rather than restore natural resources.

Many issues and debates about population and the environment focus on population control as a key to preventing environmental decline without any real analysis of women's poverty and their lack of access to resources. Public policy institutions and international agencies use the rhetoric of women's empowerment, but it is not linked to a concrete policy agenda to improve women's lives or the quality of the environment. CWPE brainstorms with other like-minded national and international organizations, raising concerns about the ways such issues are addressed, and makes effort to build allies in the environmental community to promote environmental justice and women's rights.

Quick Links:
CWPE Analysis on the Environment
Call for a New Approach
One of CWPE's first actions was to develop a statement on global environmental degradation, calling for an approach, which does not single out population size and growth as its primary cause. The Call for a New Approach was presented at the UN Summit on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), the UN Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1993), the 7th International Women and Health Meeting (Kampala,1993), the International Women's Health Conference for Cairo (Rio de Janeiro, 1994), and the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994). Signed by over 300 groups from many countries, the Call for a New Approach is also available in French and Spanish. Request these by writing us at info@cwpe.org.

Women, Population & the Environment : Call For A New Approach

Environmentalism & Population Control
Greening of Hate
More Resources On Environmental Justice

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