Announcement: Population Cyberseminar

April 9, 2012 • Daily Email Recap

Here is an announcement of the Population Environment Research Network’s (PERN) upcoming cyberseminar to be titled “Bringing the Population-Sustainable Development Debate to a Higher Level”. You can sign up to participate in this cyberseminar, which will take place from May 7th to May 14th. See:

PERN Cyberseminar on “Bringing the Population-Sustainable Development Debate to a Higher Level”


In anticipation of Rio+20, PERN is pleased to announce a cyberseminar entitled “Bringing the Population-Sustainable Development Debate to a Higher Level”, from 7-14 May 2012, organized jointly with IIASA in Laxenburg, Austria, and The Royal Society in London, UK.

This cyberseminar brings together two allied efforts to bring population considerations into the debate at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio in June (Rio+20). In the one, 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. In the other, 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.

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.

Through this cyberseminar, researchers and policymakers from around the world can add their perspectives-their readings of the scientific evidence and its policy implications-to those of their colleagues who met at IIASA and who contributed to People and the Planet report. Some of the IIASA and The Royal Society study experts will be back as active participants during the seminar week.

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