To steal Ervin Drake’s Christmas song made famous by Frank Sinatra, ‘It was a very good year’ for Population Matters, as the Annual Report shows. For me, key events and activities were our increased focus and developing partnerships with fellow campaigners in Africa. Exemplified by our event in Lagos for World Population Day, co-hosted with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation – notable for unequivocal statements from the government ministers and public officials present as to the pressing need to reduce population growth if Nigeria is to avoid societal, economic and ecological breakdown.
Traveling to Kenya later in the year to attend the UN International Conference on Population and Development, I took the opportunity to meet young women in Nairobi’s slums denied choice or access to safe, modern family planning as well as visiting subsistence farmers in rural communities directly affected by climate change. Those trips bore out the value of PM’s Empower to Plan initiative in supporting grassroots groups like Dandelion Africa and closer to home, Northamptonshire-based, You Before Two in delivering vital healthcare and associated conservation work.
But it wasn’t ‘a very good year’ for our planet; with wildfires raging across the Arctic, through California, on the Yorkshire Moors, and currently turning parts of Australia into an uninhabitable inferno. So is PM some morbid ‘ambulance-chaser’, benefitting from ‘better media coverage’ as the world burns, using other people’s tragedies to crow, ‘we told you so’? Absolutely not. Those tragic events do add credibility to the concerns PM has sought to raise over the past three decades, but more so that has been due to the growing body of science affirming our agenda. As the science states, time and space for action is tight but, as we know from Project Drawdown and Empower to Plan, positive solutions and effective technologies exist.
To sum up the year with another piece of plagiarism, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ – the counter-intuitive, but most conducive conditions for any campaigning organization. Not a traditional ‘Happy New Year’ sign-off, heavy with hope, light on reality – rather one seasoned with a strong sprinkle of the challenges and opportunities ahead!
– Robin Maynard, Director, Population Matters