All this week, Jade Sasser, policy advisor for the Public Health Institute, will be guest blogging for Blog4GlobalHealth from the Cancun Climate Summit in Mexico. Her reports can also be seen at Dialogue4Health, the blog of PHI.
CANCUN, Mexico – Monday marked the official start to proceedings of the COP 16 conference here. This past weekend, however, international youth delegates, researchers and activists converged at the 6th Conference of Youth (COY 6) meetings to share information and resources, network and dialogue about all things climate change related.
PHI’s GoJoven program, which builds the capacity of youth leaders to improve sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes, participated in the discussions by co-organizing and leading two panel discussions focused on SRH and climate change connections. You may be wondering- how are these issues linked? Read on.
Young people under the age of 25 currently make up just under half of the world’s population of 6.8 billion, and are the largest youth generation in history. At the same time, at least 215 million women worldwide want to limit or space childbearing, but do not have adequate access to modern family planning methods. This unmet need for family planning is even higher among young people, many of whom are just entering their childbearing years. How does this impact climate change?
Recent research suggests that slowing global population growth over the next hundred years- a task that could be fulfilled by meeting women’s needs for voluntary family planning services- could cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by as many as 1 to 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year- the equivalent of ending all deforestation. At the same time, meeting the SRH needs of women and adolescents supports sexual and reproductive health from a rights-based approach, ensuring individuals have the ability to make effective decisions about their own childbearing while helping to ensure environmental sustainability.
As one GoJoven delegate noted, “these are two areas of activism that make sense together. Why shouldn’t young people advocate for this connection?”