Population growth and over-consumption could have 'potentially catastrophic implications for human wellbeing'


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The Independent Online

On the eve of the Rio+20 conference, the world’s 105 science academies have warned international leaders that a failure to act now on population growth and over-consumption will have “potentially catastrophic implications for human wellbeing”.

The coalition of scientists from nations as diverse as South Africa, Latvia, Japan, Nicaragua, Bolivia and the UK, have taken the rare step of issuing a joint statement ahead of the UN conference on sustainable development, which will begin in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday (June 20).

Scientists urged action not only on reducing consumption, but also on slowing population growth, with a particular focus on educating women and girls in developing countries.

“For too long the dual issues of population and consumption have been left off the table due to political and ethical sensitivities,” said Professor Charles Godfrey, Fellow of the Royal Society and Working Group Chair of the IAP, the global network of science academies. “These are issues that affect us all, developed and developing nations alike, and we must take responsibility for them together.”

In a jointly signed statement, the IAP academies said that a future in which human wellbeing increases was still possible if policymakers act quickly.

“It is critical that national and international and policy makers, acting individually and collectively, take immediate action to address these difficult but vitally important issues,” the scientists said.