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Father Aldo Marchesini and Jhpiego recognized with UN Population Award

June 16th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Father Aldo Marchesini and Jhpiego recognized with UN Population Award 

See: http://www.unfpa.org/public/cache/offonce/home/news/pid/17642;jsessionid=40D780A67AC89F43BA0FFA71D471E79D.jahia01

UNITED NATIONS, New York – On 12 June, UNFPA celebrated the winners of the 2014 United Nations Population Award: Father Aldo Marchesini, a doctor and Catholic priest who treats obstetric fistula sufferers in Mozambique, and the maternal and child health organization Jhpiego.

Both award winners have dedicated more than four decades to saving the lives and preserving the health of women around the world.

Together, their efforts have improved and expanded reproductive and maternal health care, benefiting countless women and their families.

The cause of a lifetime

Dr. Marchesini, originally from Italy, learned to treat obstetric fistula in 1973, while training at a hospital in Uganda. He knew immediately that he would devote his life to the cause.

Obstetric fistula is a complication of childbirth occurring almost exclusively in places where basic maternal health care is unavailable. Prolonged or obstructed labour tears a hole in the birth canal, leading to chronic incontinence and, often, social isolation and marginalization.

“The following year, 1974, I went to Mozambique and I began to operate on every woman appearing in my hospital,” Dr. Marchesini said. Those who arrived for treatment were “suffering and rejected women,” he explained.

How Bangladesh’s female health workers boosted family planning

June 16th, 2014 | Add a Comment

How Bangladesh’s female health workers boosted family planning
Contraception delivered through female community health workers has helped to reduce birthrates and infant mortality

See: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/06/bangladesh-female-health-workers-family-planning

Wearing sandals and draped in a dark-blue sari, Aparajita Chakraborty glides into the cluster of hilltop homes with the self-assurance of someone who has long been making house calls.

She has. For more than 30 years, Chakraborty has been visiting this extended family, doing checkups and dispensing advice. But she is no doctor, she’s a community health worker who has been dispatched by the local hospital. Yet she has won the trust and gratitude of the surrounding villages by saving lives – mainly from cholera and other deadly diarrhoeal diseases.

With all the men away, either working in the rice fields or having migrated to the city, Chakraborty quickly gets down to business in the family compound of half a dozen homes. She and a colleague conduct a group interview, asking four women personal questions such as: when did they last menstruate? Are they taking the pill, or using another method of family planning?

One woman explains that she stopped taking the pill when her husband began working in Chittagong, a day’s journey away. She resumed her use of contraceptives immediately after his surprise visit. By then it was too late, and she is now expecting their third child.

Another woman says she is not using any form of contraception. The woman’s husband, it transpires, had a vasectomy after their fourth child. But he doesn’t want his brothers to know for fear they will think him impotent. So it’s a secret, albeit one that has been documented by hospital staff, along with every birth, death, marriage, divorce and other vital statistic of 225,000 people in the region.

Chakraborty knows more intimate details about the community than they know about one another. But discretion is paramount, she says: “I keep what I hear to myself. I feel like I’m part of the family.”

She is part of an all-female cadre of community health workers who span this portion of Bangladesh‘s low-lying delta, carefully maintaining one of the longest-running and most detailed health and population data sets in the developing world.

See: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/06/bangladesh-female-health-workers-family-planning

Ehrlich & Tobias Exclusive: The Biological Bottom Line

June 16th, 2014 | 1 Comment

“Why Impact Investors Must Come To Terms With the Biological Bottom Line”

 © By Paul R. Ehrlich and M. C. Tobias

When Nicholas Stern released the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (October 30, 2006) for the British government, it was already clear that global warming, resultant weather anomalies and the overall consequences of unheeded business-as-usual greenhouse gas emission syndromes represented a huge challenge for portfolio management that had unambiguously put governments on notice. Despite continuing havoc amongst the participating nations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, it had become clear that they should prepare for accelerating depletion of every major life-support system, and the corresponding societal chaos and economic loss which would result from escalating global temperatures and their impacts on climatic patterns and thus on biodiversity. Climate disruption presented new, but sobering opportunities; epiphanies regarding the true capacity of taxation to collectively cap the shadow now cast upon every financial market worldwide (*1) and on the future of civilization itself. (*2)

More recently, in her essay for the e-journal, Greenmoney.com, “Building a Sustainable Global Economy,” Mindy Lubber, President of CERES, wrote, “This should alarm every investor looking for long-term value creation, because climate regulatory risks alone could cost investment funds $8 trillion by 2030, according to the international consultancy Mercer.” (*3)

While the SEC and several European investor groups have now awakened to the extent of mandating environmental audits at some level of stringency, requiring a degree of transparency that should shed light on the risks to investors of new weather patterns generated by new concentrations of GHGs (greenhouse gases).  Meanwhile, biodiversity itself remains enmeshed in a seemingly impossible double-bind: there is simply no way as yet to accurately reflect true economic value of an individual, let along an entire species, or mosaic of interacting populations. All we know is that society is completely dependent on the mosaic of other organisms for its very existence.

In our book Hope on Earth: A Conversation (University of Chicago Press, May, 2014) we engaged in a discussion hinging upon the various ethical and pragmatic components of the one versus the many and of the future prospects of humanity. And we do it in a context not just of climate disruption, the loss of biodiversity, toxification of Earth, threats to health, poverty, racism, sexism, inequity and other factors the blight the human future.  Do human responses to individual plights reflect in any way an approach to realistic valuations of those individuals to this generation and future generations? Is the proclivity for heavily discounting the future and turning a blind-eye to likely ecological catastrophe built-in to a narcissism that would subject future generations to every manner of havoc as long as people are able to consume to their heart’s content now.  Is it in any way ethical for those of us in rich nations to disregard the consequences to others today, to say nothing of our own descendants?

Read the rest of this entry »

The sustainable development agenda and unmet need for sexual and reproductive health and rights

June 16th, 2014 | Add a Comment

The sustainable development agenda and unmet need for sexual and reproductive health and rights
Excerpts of editorial by Marge Berer

See: http://www.rhm-elsevier.com/article/S0968-8080(14)43775-3/fulltext

…I want to circle back and talk about “family planning” here, to add some perspectives in addition to what the papers in this journal issue provide. “Family planning” was out of the news for a long time after Cairo, for a whole generation in fact, but contrary to what you may have been told, people’s need to control their own fertility – and their considerable efforts to do so – never went away. Women and men need contraception and condoms now as much as they have ever done, and young people who are beginning to explore their sexuality need contraception and condoms more than anyone else – and are demanding them too. In 2008, 700-800 million women or couples (no figures available for men alone)7 around the worldwere using some form of contraception (why do people always talk about the ones who aren’t?) and some 43.8 million women had an abortion.8

Fertility control was not invented by FP2012; it has a history going back as far as history itself, as the pictures of IUDs past and present in Figure 1 show. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since “family planning” was promoted as the cure-all for the world’s ills in the 1960s. And, just as then, claims are again being made that it will save the world (and the environment too). Unfortunately, it didn’t then and it won’t now, and everyone needs to study/remember that history so that the same mistakes and the same narrow vision, affecting policy and programmes, are not repeated.

My generation of activists, researchers, service providers and policymakers, who brought their knowledge together at ICPD in 1994, got the world to recognise that the need for the means to control fertility was part of a much broader set of needs related to reproduction and sexuality, and that these were inextricably interconnected.

See: http://www.rhm-elsevier.com/article/S0968-8080(14)43775-3/fulltext

Canadians for a Sustainable Society

June 16th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Canadians for a Sustainable Society

See: http://sustainablesociety.com/

The new Canadians for a Sustainable Society website was not created just for population activists, it was created to serve as an information base for a broad spectrum of activists and people investigating various issues at various levels.  Human society faces complex problems and most are related to two factors, population dynamics and consumption patterns which are unsustainable. Despite this, government policies across the globe are focused on increasing both for the sake of larger commercial economies.  The fact that the welfare of current individual citizens is reduced in the pursuit of endless growth, never mind the impacts on future generations is not represented in the current policies of most governments.

Advancing Sustainable Consumption and Production at the Global Scale

June 16th, 2014 | Add a Comment

BACKGROUND, By Ed Barry

The Over-arching problem:

Humanity is collectively over-exploiting the planet’s natural resources!

There is a growing international realization that humanity’s current demand for resources has exceeded planetary boundaries. Global patterns of consumption and production are becoming even more unsustainable as we proceed into the 21st century.  With over 7 billion people on the planet and rising levels of affluence, growing overshoot is degrading the planet’s ecological systems. Yet, these systems are fundamental to the long term well-being of humans and all other species with which we share the planet.  As stated in a recent UN report; “We must act now to halt the alarming pace of climate change and environmental degradation, which pose unprecedented threats to humanity .”

To limit the outfall from overshoot, it would serve humanity to eliminate its over-use of Earth’s resources. It can be executed in an urgent, orderly, and equitable manner.  This means reducing the total quantity of natural resource goods and services that our species takes from the planet each year. It also means that we must plan future withdrawals more carefully.  In other words, our future resource demands must live within the planetary resource budget.

Associated Policy Deficits:

1.            No one is being held accountable for this collective over-consumption…

…yet those with lowest income bear the brunt of the risk

Nowhere in the design and practice of anthropogenic socio-economic systems is there accountability for humanity’s collective overuse of the planet’s finite natural resources.  There may be laws and market forces for businesses to encourage them to use their resources more efficiently.  There are some efforts to protect fisheries and forests from overuse. Some governments encourage businesses and organizations to “green” their operations and “decouple” their economic activities from consumption of natural resources. But there is no accountability for the absolute or collective use of natural resources.  Also, there is nothing inherent in the structural design of our economic systems that prevents us from collectively exceeding bio-physical limits.  Although we understand and pay attention to fiscal limitations and budgeting processes, we pay little attention to physical (natural resource) limitations and budgeting. Yet, this overuse weakens natural capital, and hurts people, most quickly those directly dependent on the specific natural capital stock.

2.            National development plans often do not consider the full quantity of natural resources needed to support societal development aspirations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Population Media Center Part of First Wave of SXSW Eco Programming

June 12th, 2014 | Add a Comment

SHELBURNE, VT – The people have voted! Population Media Center, a global leader in entertainment-education for social good, has been chosen to be part of the program line-up at the 2014 South by Southwest Eco (SXSW Eco) conference taking place October 6-8 in Austin, Texas.

SXSW Eco attracts several thousand members of the global community to explore, engage, and co-create solutions for a sustainable world each year. This piqued the interest of Population Media Center’s Texas-based state chapter (PMC-TX) – which works to engage local elected officials, community leaders, and the Texas public on population and sustainability issues, explaining how Population Media Center (PMC) addresses these issues in ways that enhance human health, human rights, the environment, and economic justice.

PMC submitted a proposal for the panel “Women First: Improve Society and Protect the Environment” featuring four female panelists from a diverse group of organizations that focus on entertainment-education, technology for social good and women’s rights and empowerment.

“It is an honor to be part of this event and take a leadership role in convening this panel,” says Keith Annis, the Director of PMC-TX. “SXSW is well known and respected around the world, and the competition to be selected was tough.”

PMC’s idea for the panel had to be voted on by the general public to gauge interest. Response was so strong that the panel was selected to be included in the first wave of 2014 SXSW Eco programming. The panel will feature Missie Thurston from Population Media Center, Kelly L’Engle from FHI 360, Katie Mota from Wise Entertainment, and Diana Lugo-Martinez from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

These women, experts in their field, will discuss and address:

  1. The definitions of sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and the challenges being faced locally, nationally, and internationally in realizing them.
  2. How the attainment of sexual and reproductive health and rights for women locally, nationally, and internationally translate into healthier societies and improved environmental protection – in addition to the individual benefits for each person.
  3. What innovative methods are being used to address these incredibly personal, cultural, and often controversial topics. Powerful behavior change communications examples that will be discussed include, but are not limited to, entertainment-education, gaming, and targeted use of technology.

“I believe the diversity of experience and depth of knowledge represented by our panelists, as well as the timeliness of our topic, were two of the most important reasons we were chosen,” says Annis. “This promises to be a panel that anyone who cares about the environment won’t want to miss. It’s an angle of environmental protection that’s not often discussed and in addition to protecting the planet, it improves the lives of men, women, and children today.”

“Women First: Improve Society and Protect the Environment” promises to enrich the SXSW Eco programming, engaging the audience in dialogue to further explore the issues and approaches. If you want to be part of this lively and enlightening conversation, register before June 20th to get a discounted admission.

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center (PMC) is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

Why Pope Francis Is Wrong About My Child-Free Life

June 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Why Pope Francis Is Wrong About My Child-Free Life

The pope may pooh-pooh the decision to remain childless, but the world needs more people who choose pets over kids.

See: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/06/pope-francis-is-wrong-about-my-child-free-life.html

Pope Francis came into office on a wave of hope that finally the world would have a progressive pope instead of the string of throwbacks with retrograde ideas who had come before. He’s since then been busy dashing those hopes, one speech at a time, demonstrating that he has zero intention of actually bothering to learn about people’s real lives and needs before telling them how to live their lives. Now he’s moved on to picking on childless couples, with a little extra shade thrown at pet ownership. Oh goody, just in time for Adopt-A-Cat Month.

See: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/06/pope-francis-is-wrong-about-my-child-free-life.html

 

Where Does Reproductive Health Stand in the Sustainable Development Goals?

June 9th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Where Does Reproductive Health Stand in the Sustainable Development Goals? 

See: http://www.populationaction.org/blog/2014/06/06/where-does-reproductive-health-stand-in-the-sustainable-development-goals/

Defining the world’s next development agenda is a huge job, and so it’s not surprise that the process has been going on for more than 18 months. But as we edge ever-closer to the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals-and the U.N. General Assembly in September where official negotiations will begin-things are starting to come into focus.

This week, the Co-chairs of the Open Working Group (OWG) shared the zero draft for the 12th session which will take place June 16-20. With only 10 days of formal negotiations remaining, these last two sessions are crucial to defining proposed goals and targets for the Sustainable Development Goals.

So, what’s new in the latest draft of the Sustainable Development Goals?  Well, for starters, we’re actually talking about goals now, having made the important shift from focus areas.

A “leave no one behind” spirit clearly prevails throughout the first round of 17 goals-from “End poverty in all its forms everywhere” to “Attain healthy life for all at all ages.” While not necessarily catchy, these statements are hard to oppose.

See: http://www.populationaction.org/blog/2014/06/06/where-does-reproductive-health-stand-in-the-sustainable-development-goals/

Scientists vindicate ‘Limits to Growth’ – urge investment in ‘circular economy’

June 9th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Scientists vindicate ‘Limits to Growth’ – urge investment in ‘circular economy’
Early warning of civilisational collapse by early to mid 21st century startlingly prescient – but opportunity for transition open

See: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jun/04/scientists-limits-to-growth-vindicated-investment-transition-circular-economy

According to a new peer-reviewed scientific report, industrial civilisation is likely to deplete its low-cost mineral resources within the next century, with debilitating impacts for the global economy and key infrastructures within the coming decade.

The study, the 33rd report to the Club of Rome, is authored by Prof Ugo Bardi of the University of Florence’s Earth Sciences Department, and includes contributions from a wide range of senior scientists across relevant disciplines.

The Club of Rome is a Swiss-based global think tank consisting of current and former heads of state, UN bureaucrats, government officials, diplomats, scientists, economists and business leaders.

Its first report in 1972, The Limits to Growth, was conducted by a scientific team at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), and warned that limited availability of natural resources relative to rising costs would undermine continued economic growth by around the second decade of the 21st century.

Although widely ridiculed, recent scientific reviews confirm that the original report’s projections in its ‘base scenario’ remain robust. In 2008,Australia’s federal government scientific research agency CSIROconcluded that The Limits to Growth forecast of potential “global ecological and economic collapse coming up in the middle of the 21st Century” due to convergence of “peak oil, climate change, and food and water security”, is “on-track.” Actual current trends in these areas “resonate strongly with the overshoot and collapse displayed in the book’s ‘business-as-usual scenario.’”

See: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jun/04/scientists-limits-to-growth-vindicated-investment-transition-circular-economy