Everyone knows that the UN’s 2015 Sustainable Development Goals were intended to literally make the world a better case. But a recent analysis shows how they might accomplish that in ways that may not have been expected. Based on an analysis by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the Asian Demographic Research Institute (ADRI) at Shanghai University, achievement of these goals could result in a significant decrease in population growth.
While none of the 17 goals explicitly seek to reduce population growth, a number of them contribute to that result. The goals are aimed at fighting poverty, reducing inequality, hunger and sickness, as well as addressing climate change, while leaving nobody behind. They include enablers such as quality primary and secondary education for all children, improved sanitation, and reduced child mortality. While it may not be intuitively obvious that these actions would reduce population growth, according to this study, they will.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of this finding in the context of challenges currently threatening our continued survival on this planet. According to IIASA World Population Program Director Wolfgang Lutz, "The future of world population growth matters for our efforts to improve the human lot and our impacts on the natural environment. The sizable effect on global population growth provides an additional rationale for vigorously pursuing the implementation of the SDGs."