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Population and Environment Connections

The Role of U.S. Family Planning Assistance in U.S. Foreign Policy

Author: Geoffrey D. Dabelko, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Population and Environment Connections - population-and-environment-connections

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press

Release Date April 2011

24 pages


The demands of a rapidly growing global population are increasingly straining supplies of food, energy, and water. The U.S. government and multilateral organizations should recognize the connections between resource demand, resource supply, and resource degradation because these factors can have a detrimental effect upon the success of strategic U.S. foreign policy goals. This Working Paper seeks to nuance mainstream conceptualizations of population-environment linkages and attempts to focus policymakers' attention on the need for integrated population, health, and environmental (PHE) approaches within U.S. foreign policy.

In this Working Paper, part of a series from CFR's Women and Foreign Policy program, Geoffrey Dabelko argues that support of, and funding for, PHE approaches should be increased because PHE programs can promote and sustain stability in developing countries. PHE initiatives are successful because they address population and environment linkages at both the macro and micro levels, embracing the complex interactions of population, consumption, and resource use patterns. These approaches also help empower, rather than penalize, the populations of developing countries by decreasing community vulnerability to climate change, food insecurity, and environmental degradation.

More About This Publication

Geoffrey D. Dabelko is the director of the environmental change and security program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is also an adjunct professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He has also held positions at the Council on Foreign Relations and served as a lecturer at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. For nearly two decades, Dabelko has facilitated dialogue among policymakers, practitioners, journalists, and scholars grappling with complex links between environment, population, development, conflict, and security. He directs his program's Health, Environment, Livelihoods, Population, and Security (HELPS) project, a five-year effort supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Debalko is the editor of the annual Environmental Change and Security Program Report. He holds a BA in political science from Duke University and an MA and a PhD in government and politics from the University of Maryland.

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