from Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Program

Population and Environment Connections

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

April 27, 2011


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Energy and Climate Policy

Maternal and Child Health

Women's Rights



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.