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Family Planning and Education – Two Keys to a Sustainable Future

Jan 22, 2022

If humanity is to succeed in a multigenerational effort to achieve a sustainable living scenario with planet Earth and its climate, the increased uptake of family planning, along with improving girls’ education around the world, will be key factors in such a victory. As Project Drawdown has quantified, the combined effect of these two imperatives are one of the most powerful emissions reductions strategies known: offering the possibility of avoiding 85.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide between 2020 and 2050.

Expert United Nations demographers currently project that global population will increase from around 8 billion today to 9.7 billion people by 2050 — a 20% increase. By 2100, the projections calculate an increase to 10.8 billion — a 35% increase.

These projections are built on expert assumptions about childbearing and human longevity trends. The most influential variable in these models is the total fertility rate. The good news is that by making immediate and transformative improvements in people’s lives today, history shows us that we can optimize the chances of population growth ending sooner rather than later.

Family planning and girls’ education have significant influences on fertility, or average number of births per woman, per lifetime. Population Media Center seeks to help global fertility, or average number of births per woman, per lifetime, decrease at least 14% from its current level of 2.4, down to 2.1 or lower. A global fertility rate of 2.1 would, eventually, cause population growth to stop.

For example, in Rwanda, we produced Umurage Urukwiye (Rwanda’s Brighter Future), a 312-episode radio show, which aired from October, 2012 through October, 2014. Endline research found that the likelihood of respondents saying they “currently use something to delay or avoid pregnancy” was 1.6 times greater compared to baseline. Moreover:

Population Media Center also produced Pambazuko (New Dawn) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This 156-episode show originally aired from February, 2016 to August, 2017 and was rebroadcast from 2018 to 2019.