The problems of scale and time horizon require that further research be focused on carefully designed and coordinated case studies, such as have been included in this volume. Indicators of how to measure and judge land use change need to be developed. Mortimore's case study of northern Nigeria suggests what some of the physical indicators might be; DeWalt's case study utilizes some of the social indicators. Only when there is a much larger number of sophisticated case studies will we be able to generalize about how current and future population growth rates in the world are likely to change land use.
This is the beginning of an important research area, not its culmination. Clearly the workshop papers and discussion raised more questions than they answered. The current population growth rates in some of the developing countries make this research not only important but essential to their ability to accommodate their future populations. Therefore, the questions raised by these workshop papers will be used to direct the subsequent work of the Committee on Population and, we hope, others in this area with the purpose of stimulating new research on the relationship between population growth and land use change in the future.
Binswanger, H.P., and P.L. Pingali 1985 Population growth and technological change in agriculture. Pp. 62–89 in T.J. Davis, ed., Proceedings of the Fifth Agriculture Sector Symposium: Population and Food. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Boserup, E. 1965 The Conditions of Agricultural Growth: The Economics of Agrarian Change Under Population Pressure. Chicago: Aldine Press.
1970 Present and potential food production in developing countries. Pp. 100–113 in W. Zelinsky et al., eds., Geography and a Crowding World. New York: Oxford University Press.
1981 Population and Technological Change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Brown, L.R., A. Durning, C. Flavin, H. French, J. Jacobson, N. Lenssen, M. Lowe, S. Postel, M. Renner, J. Ryan, L. Starke, and J. Young
1991 State of the World 1991: A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress Toward a Sustainable Society. New York: W.W. Norton.
Bureau of the Census 1991 World Population Profile: 1991. Report WP/91. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce.
Ehrlich, P.R., and J.P. Holdren 1971 Impact of population growth. Science 171:1212–1217.
Ehrlich, P.R., A.H. Ehrlich, and J.P. Holdren 1977 Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment. San Francisco: Freeman.
Higgins, G.M., A.H. Kassam, L. Naiken, G. Fischer, and M.M. Shah 1983 Potential Population Supporting Capacities of Lands in the Developing World. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.
III. A Policy Framework
32. Excessive population growth diffuses the fruits of development over increasing numbers instead of improving living standards in many developing countries: a reduction of current growth rates is an imperative for sustainable development. The critical issues are the balance between population size and available resources and the rate of population growth in relation to the capacity of the economy to provide for the basic needs of the population, not just today but for generations. Such a long-term view is necessary because attitudes to fertility rarely change rapidly and because, even after fertility starts declining, past increases in population impart a momentum of growth as people reach child-bearing age. However a nation proceeds towards the goals of sustainable development and lower fertility levels, the two are intimately linked and mutually reinforcing.
33. Measures to influence population size cannot be effective in isolation from other environment/development issues. The number, density, movement, and growth rate of a population cannot be influenced in the short run if these efforts are being overwhelmed by adverse patterns of development in other areas. Population policies must have a broader focus than controlling numbers: Measures to improve the quality of human resources in terms of health, education, and social development are as important.
34. A first step may be for governments to abandon the false division between 'productive' or 'economic' expenditures and 'social' expenditures. Policymakers must realize that spending on population activities and on other efforts to raise human potential is crucial to a nation's economic and productive activities and to achieving sustainable human progress - the end for which a government exists.
1. Managing Population Growth
35. Progress in population policies is uneven. Some countries with serious population problems have comprehensive policies. Some go no further than the promotion of family planning. Some do not do even that.
36. A population policy should set out and pursue broad national demographic goals in relation to other socio-economic objectives. Social and cultural factors dominate all others in affecting fertility. The most important of these is the roles women play in the family, the economy, and the society at large Fertility rates fall as women's employment opportunities outside the home and farm, their access to education, and their age at marriage all rise. Hence policies meant to lower fertility rates not only must include economic incentives and disincentives, but must aim to improve the position of women in society. Such policies should essentially promote women's rights.
Latin America and Caribbean
Europe and USSR
Note; The figures are percentages of appropriate groups receiving a given level of education. As many older children are in primary school percentages can be over 100.
Source: WCED, based on data in UNESCO, 'A Summary Statistical Review of Education in the World, 1960-1982, Paris, July 1984.
37. Poverty breeds high rates of population growth: Families poor in income, employment, and social security need children first to work and later to sustain elderly parents. Measures to provide an adequate livelihood for poor households, to establish and enforce minimum-age child labour laws, and to provide publicly financed social security will all lower fertility rates. Improved public health and child nutrition programmes that bring down infant mortality rates - so parents do not need 'extra' children as insurance against child death - can also help to reduce fertility levels.
Dean of School of Environmental Studies, Moi University
WCED Public Hearing
Nairobi, 23 Sept 1986
38. All these programmes are effective in bringing down birth rates only when their benefits are shared by the majority. Societies that attempt to spread the benefits of economic growth to a wider segment of the population may do better at lowering birth rates than societies with both faster and higher levels of economic growth but a less even sharing of the benefits of that growth.
39. Thus developing-country population strategies must deal not only with the population variable as such but also with the underlying social and economic conditions of underdevelopment. They must be multifaceted campaigns: to strengthen social, cultural, and economic motivations for couples to have small families and. through family planning programmes, to provide to all who want them the education, technological means, and services required to control family size.
40. Family planning services in many developing countries suffer by being isolated from other programmes that reduce fertility and even from those that increase motivation to use such services. They remain separate both in design and implementation from such fertility-related programmes as nutrition, public health, mother and child care, and preschool education that take place in the same area and that are often funded by the same agency.
41. Such services must therefore be integrated with other efforts to improve access to health care and education. The clinical support needed for most modern contraceptive methods makes family planning services heavily dependent on the health system. Some governments have successfully combined population programme: with health, education, and rural development projects, and implemented them as part of major socio-economic programmes in villages or regions. This integration increases motivation, improves access, and raises the effectiveness of investments in family planning.
42. Only about 1.5 per cent of official development aid now goes for population assistance./13 Regrettably, some donor countries have cut back on their assistance for multilateral population programmes and so weakened them; this must be reversed.
43. Zimbabwe is one nation that has successfully integrated its family planning efforts not only with its rural health services but also with efforts to improve women's abilities to organize group activities and earn money through their own labour. The government's initial efforts were aimed less at limiting population growth than at assisting women to space births in the interests of mother and child health and at helping infertile women to bear children. But gradually families have begun to use the contraceptives made available for child spacing as a way to limit fertility. Zimbabwe now leads sub-Saharan Africa in the use of modern contraceptive methods./14
2. Managing Distribution and Mobility
44. Population distribution across a country's different regions is influenced by the geographical spread of economic activity and opportunity. Most countries are committed in theory to balancing regional development, but are rarely able to do this in practice. Governments able to spread employment opportunities throughout their nations and especially through their countrysides will thus limit the rapid and often uncontrolled growth of one or two cities. China's effort to support village-level industries in the countryside is perhaps the most ambitious of this sort of national programme.
45. Migration from countryside to city is not in itself a bad thing; it is part of the process of economic development and diversification. The issue is not so much the overall rural urban shift but the distribution of urban growth between large metropolitan cities and smaller urban settlements. (See Chapter 9.)
46. A commitment to rural development implies more attention to realizing the development potential of all regions, particularly those that are ecologically disadvantaged (See Chapter 6.) This would help reduce migration from these areas due to lack of opportunities. But governments should avoid going too far in the opposite direction, encouraging people to cove into sparsely populated areas such as tropical moist forests, where the land may not be able to provide sustainable livelihoods.
One issue of relevance that requires further research is the use of the tax system as a means for controlling population growth and discouraging rural-urban migration.
To slow down population growth, should families without children be given a tax incentive or tax break? Should a tax penalty be imposed for each child after a fixed number of children, considering that the tax system has not solved the population migration problem?
Executive Director, Economic Commission for Africa
WCED Public Hearing
Harare, 18 Sept 1986
3. From Liability to Asset
47. When a population exceeds the carrying capacity of the available resources, it can become a liability in efforts to improve people's welfare. But talking of population just as numbers glosses over an important point: People are also a creative resource, and this creativity is an asset societies must tap. To nurture and enhance that asset, people's physical well-being must be improved through better nutrition, health care, and so on. And education must be provided to help them become more capable and creative, skilful, productive, and better able to deal with day-to-day problems. All this has to be achieved through access to and participation in the processes of sustainable development.
3.1 Improving Health
Speaker from the floor
WCED Public Hearing
Jakarta, 26 March 1985
48. Good health is the foundation of human welfare and productivity. Hence a broad-based health policy is essential for sustainable development. In the developing world, the critical problems of ill health are closely related to environmental conditions and development problems.
49. Malaria is the most important parasitic disease in the tropics, and its prevalence is closely related to wastewater disposal and drainage. Large dams and irrigation systems have led to sharp increases in the incidence of schistosomiasis (snail fever) in many areas. Inadequacies in water supply and sanitation are direct causes of other widespread and debilitating diseases such as diarrhoeas and various worm infestations.
50. Though much has been achieved in recent years, 1.7 billion people lack access to clean water, and 1.2 billion to adequate sanitation./15 Many diseases can be controlled not just through therapeutic interventions but also through improvements in rural water supply, sanitation, and health education. In this sense, they really require a developmental solution. In the developing world, the number of water taps nearby is a better indication of the health of a community than is the number of hospital beds.
51. Other examples of links between development, environmental conditions, and health include air pollution and the respiratory illnesses it brings, the impact of housing conditions on the spread of tuberculosis, the effects of carcinogens and toxic substances, and the exposure to hazards in the workplace and elsewhere.
52. Many health problems arise from the nutritional deficiencies that occur in virtually all developing countries, but most acutely in low-income areas. Most malnutrition is related to a shortage of calories or protein or both, but some diets also lack specific elements and compounds, such as iron and iodine. Health will be greatly improved in low-income areas by policies that lead to the production of more of the cheap foods the poor traditionally eat - coarse grains and root crops.
53. These health, nutrition, environment, and development links imply that health policy cannot be conceived of purely in terms of curative or preventive medicine, or even in terms of greater attention to public health. Integrated approaches are needed that reflect key health objectives in areas such as food production; water supply and sanitation: industrial policy, particularly with regard to safety and pollution; and the planning of human settlements. Beyond this, it is necessary to identify vulnerable groups and their health risks and to ensure that the socio-economic factors that underlie these risks are taken into account in other areas of development policy.
54. Hence. WHO's 'Health for All' strategy should be broadened far beyond the provision of medical workers and clinics, to cover health-related interventions in all development activities./16 Moreover, this broader approach must be reflected in institutional arrangements to coordinate all such activities effectively.
55. Within the narrower area of health care, providing primary health care facilities and making sure that everyone has the opportunity to use them are appropriate starting points. Maternal and child health care are also particularly important. The critical elements here are relatively inexpensive and can have a profound impact on health and well-being. An organized system of trained birth attendants, protection against tetanus and other childbirth infections, and supplemental feeding can dramatically reduce maternal mortality. Similarly, low-cost programmes to assure immunization, teach and supply oral dehydration therapy against diarrhoeas, and encourage breast-feeding (which in turn can reduce fertility) can increase child survival rates dramatically.
56. Health care must be supplemented by effective health education. Some parts of the Third World may soon face growing numbers of the illnesses associated with life-styles in industrial nations - cancer and heart disease especially. Few developing nations can afford the expensive treatment required for the latter diseases, and should begin efforts now to educate their citizens on the dangers of smoking and of high-fat diets.
57. A rapid spread of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in both developed and developing nations could drastically alter all countries' health priorities. AIDS is threatening to kill millions of people and disrupt the economies of many countries. Governments should overcome any lingering shyness and rapidly educate their people about this syndrome and about the ways in which it is spread. International cooperation on research and the handling of the disease is essential.
58. Another major health problem with international ramifications is the increase in drug addiction. It is a problem closely linked to organized crime in the production of drugs, in large-scale international traffic in these drugs, and in the networks for distribution. It distorts the economy in many poor producing areas and destroys people the world over. International cooperation is essential in tackling this scourge. Some countries have to deploy considerable financial resources to halt the production and traffic in narcotics and to promote crop diversification and rehabilitation schemes in the producing areas, which are generally impoverished. To sustain their efforts, greater international assistance is essential
59. Most medical research focuses on pharmaceuticals, vaccines. and other technological interventions for disease management. Much of this research is directed at the diseases of industrialized countries, as their treatment accounts for a substantial part of the sales of pharmaceutical companies. More research is urgently needed on the environmentally related tropical diseases that are the major health problem in the Third World, This research should focus not merely on new medicines, but also on public health measures to control these diseases. Existing arrangements for international collaboration on tropical disease research should be greatly strengthened.
Student, North Toronto Collegiate
WCED Public Hearing
Ottawa, 26-27 May 1986
3.2 Broadening Education
60. Human resource development demands knowledge and skills to help people improve their economic performance. Sustainable development requires changes in values and attitudes towards environment and development - indeed, towards society and work at home, on farms, and in factories. The world's religions could help provide direction and motivation in forming new values that would stress individual and joint responsibility towards the environment and towards nurturing harmony between humanity and environment.
61. Education should also be geared towards making people more capable of dealing with problems of overcrowding and excessive population densities, and better able to improve what could be called 'social carrying capacities'. This is essential to prevent ruptures in the social fabric, and schooling should enhance the levels of tolerance and empathy required for living in a crowded world. Improved health, lower fertility, and better nutrition will depend on greater literacy and social and civic responsibility. Education can induce all these, and can enhance a society's ability to overcome poverty, increase incomes, improve health and nutrition, and reduce family size.
62. The investment in education and the growth in school enrolment during the past few decades are signs of progress. Access to education is increasing and will continue to do so. Today almost all the world's boys are getting some form of primary education. In Asia and Africa, however, enrolment rates for girls are much lower than for boys at all levels. A large gap also exists between developed and developing countries in enrolment rates beyond primary schools, as Table 4-4 indicated.
63. UN projections of enrolment rates for the year 2000 suggest a continuation of these trends. Thus despite the growth in primary education, illiteracy will continue to rise in terms of sheer numbers: there will be more than 900 million people unable to read and write at the end of the century. By then, girls' enrolment rates are still expected to be below the current rates for boys in Asia. As for secondary education, developing countries are not expected to attain even the 1960 industrial country levels by the year 2000./17
64. Sustainable development requires that these trends be corrected. The main task of education policy must be to make literacy universal and to close the gaps between male and female enrolment rates. Realizing these goals would improve individual productivity and earnings, as well as personal attitudes to health, nutrition, and child-bearing. It can also instill a greater awareness of everyday environmental factors. Facilities for education beyond primary school must be expanded to improve skills necessary for pursuing sustainable development.
65. A major problem confronting many countries is the widespread unemployment and the unrest that it leads to. Education has often been unable to provide the skills needed for appropriate employment. This is evident in the large numbers of unemployed people who have been trained for white-collar employment in swelling urban populations. Education and training should also be directed towards the acquisition of practical and vocational skills, and particularly towards making people more self-reliant. All this should be supported by efforts to nurture the informal sector and the participation of community organizations.
66. Providing facilities is only the beginning. Education must be improved in quality and in relevance to local conditions. In many areas, it should be integrated with children's participation in farm work, a process requiring flexibility in the school system. It should impart knowledge relevant for the proper management of local resources. Rural schools must teach about local soils, water, and the conservation of both, about deforestation and how the community and the individual can reverse it. Teachers must be trained and the curriculum developed so that students learn about the agricultural balance sheet of an area.
67. Most people base their understanding of environmental processes and development on traditional beliefs or on information provided by a conventional education. Many thus remain ignorant about ways in which they could improve traditional production practices and better protect the natural resource base. Education should therefore provide comprehensive knowledge, encompassing and cutting across the social and natural sciences and the humanities, thus providing insights on the interaction between natural and human resources, between development and environment.
68. Environmental education should be included in and should run throughout the other disciplines of the formal education curriculum at all levels - to foster a sense of responsibility for the state of the environment and to teach students how to monitor, protect, and improve it. These objectives cannot be achieved without the involvement of students in the movement for a better environment, through such things as nature clubs and special interest groups. Adult education, on-the-job training, television, and other less formal methods must be used to reach out to as wide a group of individuals as possible, as environmental issues and knowledge systems now change radically in the space of a lifetime.
69. A critical point of intervention is during teacher training. The attitudes of teachers will be key in increasing understanding of the environment and its. links with development. To enhance the awareness and capabilities of teachers in this area, multilateral and bilateral agencies must provide support for the relevant curriculum development in teacher training institutions, for the preparation of teaching aids, and for other similar activities. Global awareness could be fostered by encouraging contacts among teachers from different countries, for instance in specialized centres set up for this purpose.
When the government took our land in the valley of Rio Doce, they wanted to give us another place somewhere else. But the State, the government will never understand that we do not have another place to go.
The only possible place for the Krenak people to live and to re-establish our existence, to speak to our Gods, to speak to our nature, to weave our lives is where our God created us. It is useless for the government to put us in a very beautiful place, in a very good place with a lot of hunting and a lot of fish. The Krenak people, we continue dying and we die insisting that there is only one place for us to live.
My heart does not become happy to see humanity's incapacity. I have no pleasure at all to come here and make these statements. We can no longer see the planet that we live upon as if it were a chess-board where people just move things around. We cannot consider the planet as something isolated from the cosmic.
We are not idiots to believe that there is possibility of life for us outside of where the origin of our life is. Respect our place of living, do not degrade our living condition, respect this life. We have no arms to cause pressure, the only thing we have is the right to cry for our dignity and the need to live in our land.
Coordinator of Indian Nations Union
WCED Public Hearing
Sao Paulo. 28-29 Oct 1985
3.3 Empowering Vulnerable Groups
70. The processes of development generally lead to the gradual integration of local communities into a larger social and economic framework. But some communities - so-called indigenous or tribal peoples - remain isolated because of such factors as physical barriers to communication or marked differences in social and cultural practices. Such groups are found in North America, in Australia, in the Amazon Basin, in Central America, in the forests and hills of Asia, in the deserts of North Africa, and elsewhere.
71. The isolation of many such people has meant the preservation of a traditional way of life in close harmony with the natural environment. Their very survival has depended on their ecological awareness and adaptation. But their isolation has also meant that few of them have shared in national economic and social development; this may be reflected in their poor health, nutrition, and education.
72. With the gradual advance of organized development into remote regions, these groups are becoming less isolated. Many live in areas rich in valuable natural resources that planners and 'developers' want to exploit, and this exploitation disrupts the local environment so as to endanger traditional ways of life. The legal and institutional changes that accompany organized development add to such pressures.
73. Growing interaction with the larger world is increasing the vulnerability of these groups, since they are often left out of the processes of economic development. Social discrimination, cultural barriers, and the exclusion of these people from national political processes makes these groups vulnerable and subject to exploitation. Many groups become dispossessed and marginalized, and their traditional practices disappear. They become the victims of what could be described as cultural extinction.
74. These communities are the repositories of vast accumulations of traditional knowledge and experience that links humanity with its ancient origins. Their disappearance is a loss for the larger society, which could learn a great deal from their traditional skills in sustainably managing very complex ecological systems. It is a terrible irony that as formal development reaches more deeply into rain forests, deserts, and other isolated environments, it tends to destroy the only cultures that have proved able to thrive in these environments.
75. The starting point for a just and humane policy for such groups is the recognition and protection of their traditional rights to land and the other resources that sustain their way of life - rights they may define in terms that do not fit into standard legal systems. These groups' own institutions to regulate rights and obligations are crucial for maintaining the harmony with nature and the environmental awareness characteristic of the traditional way of life. Hence the recognition of traditional rights must go hand in hand with measures to protect the local institutions that enforce responsibility in resource use. And this recognition must also give local communities a decisive voice in the decisions about resource use in their area.
76. Protection of traditional rights should be accompanied by positive measures to enhance the well-being of the community in ways appropriate to the group's life-style. For example, earnings from traditional activities can be increased through the introduction of marketing arrangements that ensure a fair price for produce, but also through steps to conserve and enhance the resource base and increase resource productivity.
77. Those promoting policies that have an impact on the lives of an isolated, traditional people must tread a fine line between keeping them in artificial, perhaps unwanted isolation and wantonly destroying their life-styles. Hence broader measures of human resource development are essential. Health facilities must be provided to supplement and improve traditional practices; nutritional deficiencies have to be corrected, and educational institutions established. These steps should precede new projects that open up an area to economic development. Special efforts should also be made to ensure that the local community can derive the full benefit of such projects, particularly through jobs.
78. In terms of sheer numbers, these isolated, vulnerable groups are small. But their marginalization is a symptom of a style of development that tends to neglect both human and environmental considerations. Hence a more careful and sensitive consideration of their interests is a touchstone of a sustainable development policy.