This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

CyberSeminar on Population and the Environment

The Population-Environment Research Network (PERN) has just announced a new cyberseminar to be held 7-14 May 2012, ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June of this year. The cyberseminar will draw upon two documents that are available at the PERN website. 
(1) a global forum of experts met under UNFPA sponsorship in late November at IIASA in Austria to bring data and research to bear on these higher-level  population relationships. Under the broader umbrella of the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, their summary document, the Laxenburg Declaration on Population and Sustainable Development, was announced in a 24 February 2012 letter in Science magazine; and (2) The Royal Society's expert international working group, chaired by Nobel Laureate Sir John Sulston FRS, oversaw a study which resulted in a major report, People and the Planet, which will be released on 26 April 2012. They conducted a wide-ranging
evidence gathering exercise involving meetings with government, industry, academia, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in the UK and overseas, as well as an open public call for evidence.
Even if you don't participate in the cyberseminar, these will be useful documents to consider, given the overall premise that the organizers have in mind:
In this cyberseminar we will draw on both documents. It takes as a premise that population matters are important in considerations of sustainable development (SD). Yet, the framing of the discussion has tended to be Malthusian, with a focus on population size and growth rates and a policy emphasis on efforts to curb population growth rates. The size of populations, though, is only one dimension of their characteristics that matter for SD prospects. Research indicates that size is usually not even the most important dimension. Other dimensions—among them age distribution, household composition, place of residence, migratory and consumption patterns, gender considerations, and educational structure—have arguably more important and more predictable implications for people’s ability and willingness to engage in mitigation of environmental challenges, their effectiveness in adapting to such challenges, and their success in developing and adopting new approaches and technologies across the spectrum of daily life.
These represent what I think of as the BIG issues when it comes to population, and we all need to participate as much as we can. If for whatever reason you miss the chance to actively participate in the cyberseminar as it is taking place, the PERN website has an archive to which it will posted. 

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