World population increase: our dangerous opportunity.
In his remarks to the International Conference on Population, Mostafa K Tolba, Executive Director of The United Nations (UN) Evnironment Program, urges the Conference to recommend 3 measures: 1) identification of critical areas of ecologic and social stress; 2) development and implementation of situation-specific population policies in the context of the interrelationships between resources, the environment, people, and development; and 3) strengthening of the interrelationships approach of the UN system through greater priority to the implementation of the Program of Work on Interrelationships established by the UN General Assembly. It is asserted that increased population size combined with resources mismanagement to destroy the web of life that supports the economies of UN member states. Deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, air and water pollution reflect the strain that has been placed on resources and natural systems. Population policies must address both the vast differences in resource use and the issue of sustainable resource management. Resource misuse leads to deterioration of the invironment, which in turn represents the nonsustainability of the process of development and hence undermines the meeting of the population's needs and aspirations. Each of the 4 system components--resources, people, environment, and development--affects and is affected by the other 3. The task of providing basic needs while preserving the sustainability of the resource base is seriously undermined by rapid population growth. Family planning can make a major contribution to social and economic development. A massive untapped demand for fertility control has been demonstrated and the major world religions all support the concept of responsible parenthood. A more active approach to family planning requires, however, that governments plan for the longterm. It is hoped that the 2nd World Population Conference will generate a new willingness to tackle world population increase--our dangerous opportunity.