October 28, 2015

How should the UN’s SDGs interact with the enormous demographic challenges now discussed by IMF and World Bank?

Sir, Martin Wolf writes: “a combination of new technological opportunities and new approaches to a deal opens up fresh opportunities… to curb risks of catastrophic climate change” “The upside of addressing climate change” October 28. Let us pray that is so.

But both the World Bank and the IMF, when now in October 2015, they discuss the huge demographic challenges the world face, they also report on a sort of low-tech tool that will seemingly also be helpful addressing climate change, namely lower fertility.

IMF, in its Staff Discussion Note of October 2015, “The Fiscal Consequences of Shrinking Populations” writes: “Declining fertility and increasing longevity will lead to a slower-growing, older world population... This, in turn, contributes to a more sustainable pattern of development and reduced pressures on the environment.”

And the World Bank, in its advance of the “Global Monitoring Report 2015/2016: Development Goals in an Era of Demographic Change” mentions: “Demographic trends and related policies will have implications for the global environment and for the effectiveness of adaptation and mitigation strategies. Family planning and reproductive health policies may help mitigate the negative effects of climate change by reducing population growth, especially in pre- and early-dividend countries. Education is not only likely to lower fertility, it can also have a major impact on the effectiveness of measures aimed at tackling the negative effects of climate change…”

And the UN’s SDGs does include, as Target 3.7, to “By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programs”

Otherwise the SDGs, except for some minor references, in target 11.2 to the need of improved public transport for older persons, and in 11.7 to providing access to green and public spaces for older persons, seems to completely ignore the demographic challenges IMF and World Bank reports on.

It will be very interesting to see how the SDGs and demography will complement each other and or compete for scarce resources.

@PerKurowski ©