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General overview. A. Population, resources, environment and development: highlights of the issues in the context of the World Population Plan of Action.
In: Population, resources, environment and development. Proceedings of the Expert Group on Population, Resources, Environment and Development, Geneva, 25-29 April 1983, [compiled by] United Nations. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs. New York, New York, United Nations, 1984. 63-95. (Population Studies No. 90; ST/ESA/SER.A/90; International Conference on Population, 1984)The acceptance by the international community of the importance of the interrelations between population, resources, environment, and development has been in large measure an outgrowth of the search for development alternatives that would reduce the disparities between developed and developing countries and ameliorate poverty within countries. Possibly the most important task of the Expert Group on Population, Resources, Environment, and Development is to identify more clearly the role of population within these interrelationships, i.e., to identify through which mechanisms population characteristics condition and are conditioned by resource use, environmental effects, and the developmental structure. To a considerable extent the incidence of poverty forms the root cause of many of the problems derived from the interrelationships between population, resources, environment, and development in developing countries. Affluence appears to be the major cause of many of the environmental and resource problems in the developed countries. The first 2 sections are devoted to issues considered crucial in the alleviation of poverty. Lack of food, adequate nutrition, health care, education, gainful employment, old age security, and adequate per capita incomes perpetuate poverty of large numbers of people in developing countries and therefore also their production and consumption patterns, which undermine, through environmental and resource degradation, the very resources on which they depend for their livelihood. The discussion of environment as a provider of resources first considers supplies of minerals, energy, and water. Attention is then directed to the stock of agricultural land that can be expanded through fertilization and irrigation and which may be reduced as a result of desertification, deforestation, urbanization, salinization, and waterlogging. Another section focuses on the need for integrating population variables into development planning. In the formulation of longterm development objectives, population can no longer be regarded as an exogenous force, but rather becomes an endogenous variable which affects and is affected by development policies, programs, and plans.