220221 Family planning: An emerging component of climate change

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ben Meers, MPH , School of Global Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Diplomats departed Copenhagen's Climate Conference reeling from clashes over emissions and continued struggles to address one of the world's biggest threats. Current adaptation strategies assist developing countries in identifying urgent environmental response necessities. This abstract proposes a study of the role family planning can play in the climate change discussion—possibly narrowing the gap between environment and public health.

Lagged funding and agenda-setting difficulties have damned family planning's progress in recent decades; perhaps, now, the reproductive health community can use its potential environmental impact to gain footing on political agendas and budget allocations. Emerging arguments postulate family planning can serve a strong component to climate change response; however, reproductive health falls under the Ministry of Health's jurisdiction—not the Environment's. A literature review, needs assessment and critique of existing practices will theorize how to bridge these sectors.

The unmet demand for modern contraceptives results in 76 million unintended pregnancies each year. Addressing this health need could reduce an increasing population's role in environmental degradation, human displacement and food and water supply. Coupling sustainable land management skills with family planning provides long-term environmental improvements safe from the erosion of a rapidly growing population.

Few successes have been accomplished since the 1994 identification of sexual education as a path toward sustainability, making the anticipation of new programs and related benchmarks a necessary exercise. Allowing family planning resources access to climate change funding provides a multi-sector, cost-efficient environmental response. Increased cross-sector investment will shift the focus to human rights, a worthy alternative to technological solutions.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
- Explain different environmental benefits of reducing unintended pregnancies, ranging from decreased environmental degradation to increased food and water supply. - Evaluate current development strategies, and suggest improved sustainable development responses which incorporate reproductive health education. - List environmental consequences to ignoring the unmet demand for modern contraceptives using existing frameworks; e.g. the Millennium Development Goals.

Keywords: Sustainability, Family Planning

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have completed the Master's of Public Health coursework at two universities, and several additional related short courses. I have also contributed to research at Staten Serum Institut, a Danish public health research institution.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.