The Thriving Together campaign recognises that family planning is critically important not only for women and girls but also for the environment and biodiversity

David Johnson outlines a proposed Motion to the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille in June 2020 on nature conservation and family planning at the IUCN Regional Conservation Forum in Rotterdam last week

Today, World Population Day, ten UK-based IUCN Members are among the 151 leading environmental and reproductive health organisations to pledge support for a first-of-its-kind campaign: Thriving Together. The Sustainable Development Goals call for integrated solutions and systems thinking, that is what is at the heart of Thriving Together. A cross-sector global alliance has been created which is united by the agreement that improving access to family planning services is critically important for the environment and biodiversity, as well as the health, wellbeing and empowerment of women and girls. You can see see campaign video here: https://vimeo.com/347135988

The Thriving Together campaign highlights that, whether working in health or environmental conservation, through sharing information and working together on strategic projects and policies, we can help human communities and their ecosystems thrive. Successful biodiversity conservation requires taking people, our health, and our interactions with the natural world into account.

Increasing human pressures are among the many challenges facing planetary health. In addition, by harming ecosystems, people undermine food and water security and human health, and threaten habitats and species. Ensuring family planning is available to all who seek it is among the positive actions organisations must take to lessen these pressures.

The United Nations projects that global population will rise from 7.7 billion today to 9.7 billion by 2050. Future population growth is uncertain however, and highly sensitive to small changes in the average number of children per mother. If the physical, financial, educational, social and religious barriers to people using family planning services were removed and the average number of children per mother was just 0.5 lower than the most commonly cited UN population scenario, global population would peak at 8.9 billion in 2050, rather than 9.7 billion.

This is all possible, by enabling the exercise of a well-recognised human right, that people should be able to decide for themselves, whether, when, how often and with whom to bring children into the world. Family planning contributes to women’s empowerment, improves family and general health, advances education and life opportunities and, by slowing population growth, eases pressures on wildlife and ecosystems.

Whilst UK based IUCN Members are well represented, CEESP and a further 30 IUCN Members support the campaign too. Collectively, the health and environmental organisations supporting Thriving Together work in over 170 countries. The full list of supporters, statement and background paper ‘Removing Barriers to Family Planning, Empowering Sustainable Environmental Conservation’ can be view on the campaign website www.thrivingtogether.global

The Thriving Together campaign is spearheaded by UK IUCN Member the Margaret Pyke Trust, which has over 50 years’ experience of family planning and is the only IUCN Member with this expertise. Chief Executive of the Trust, and NCUK committee member, David Johnson, summarised the campaign, The existence of barriers to family planning is the most important ignored environmental challenge of our day. This changes now. The Thriving Together campaign encourages cross-sectoral support between health and environmental conservation organisations, showcasing that when people can choose freely whether and when to have children it is for the benefit of both people and planet. Barriers to family planning are not only relevant to those who are passionate about improving health, gender equality, empowerment and economic development, but also to those who are passionate about the conservation of biodiversity, the environment and sustainability. We’ve already received huge support from IUCN on this work, and this is the first step towards the motion we hope to pass in Marseille next year.”

Thriving Together logo 900 x 600

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