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PMC Board member Kristina Hare Lyons talks 8 billion in the boston globe

Nov 23, 2022

Originally Published in The Boston Globe on November 22, 2022

Pop. 8 billion: monumental mark, with critical policy implications

As a board member of the Population Media Center, which works at the intersection of demographics, female empowerment, reproductive health, and the environment, I found a balanced perspective in the article “World populace reaches 8 billion” (Page A6, Nov. 16). We’ve crossed a monumental threshold for humanity and the planet. The reporter captures both the enormity of the exponential growth — it took a century and a quarter to go from 1 billion to 2 billion people (in 1927) and a mere 11 years to add the latest billion — and the uneven nature of that growth, which demands very different and critically important policy solutions at the national and regional levels.

While fertility rates have declined in the developed world, they remain high in many less-developed countries, where we will see 90 percent of population growth over the next decade, contributing to poverty, a strain on natural resources, biodiversity loss, civil conflict, and migration pressures.

But population projections are not predictions. Future outlooks will depend on many variables, including renewed investments now by the United States and other development aid donors. Policies and programs that extend girls’ education attainment, dismantle barriers to family planning, and augment women’s autonomy and rights — all critical development objectives in their own right — have proved to drive reduced fertility rates and other population outcomes that support both climate change mitigation and adaptation. At the same time, they have enhanced public health and sustainable development.

Kristina Hare Lyons