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Choice, not control: Why limiting the fertility of poor populations will not solve the climate crisis

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A. Otzelberger
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This discussion paper argues that strengthening women’s and girls’ reproductive rights is vital for equitable development and must be a priority, regardless of a country’s population growth and carbon footprint.

It argues that it is human consumption, fundamentally controlled and driven by wealthier populations, not the reproductive behaviour of poor populations, that is overstretching the capacity of our ecosystems. Suggesting otherwise puts false blame on populations who have done least to cause climate change while suffering the brunt of its impacts. It also argues that, in the context of climatic adversity and natural resource dependence, the line between fulfilling unmet demand for family planning on the one hand, and contributing to unjust population control narratives on the other, is very thin. The paper concludes with key messages and recommendations for policy and programming on sexual and reproductive health and rights, climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation.

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