Why population growth matters for sustainable development

Charting a path towards a more sustainable future requires demographic foresight: anticipating the nature and the consequences of major population shifts before and while they occur and adopting forward-looking and proactive policies guided by such analysis. Today, in many low-income and lower-middle-income countries, rapid population growth adds to the challenges of achieving social and economic development. The continuing high levels of fertility that drive such growth are both a symptom and a cause of slow progress in development, often linked to a lack of choice and empowerment among women and girls. Achieving the Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, especially those related to reproductive health, education, women’s empowerment and gender equality, would likely contribute to slowing the pace of global population growth. Yet, changes in population trends alone will do little to resolve unsustainable patterns of resource use. Achieving sustainability will depend critically on humanity’s capacity and willingness to increase resource efficiency in consumption and production and to decouple economic growth from damage to the environment, with high-income and upper-middle-income countries taking responsibility and leading by example.

Sustainable Development Goals:
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