|Focus||Promotion of smaller families, and sustainable consumption.|
|Method||Campaigning, education, lobbying and research|
|President, Jonathon Porritt|
Chair, Terry Murphy
|Optimum Population Trust|
Population Matters, formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust, is a UK-based charity that addresses population size and its effects on environmental sustainability. It considers population growth as a major contributor to climate change, environmental degradation, resource depletion, conflict and societal problems such as housing scarcity and transport congestion.
History and background
Population Matters was launched as the Optimum Population Trust following a meeting on 24 July 1991 by the late David Willey and others concerned about population numbers and sustainability. They were impelled to act by the failure of United Kingdom governments to respond to population growth and threats to sustainability.
The Optimum Population Trust prepared analyses and lobbied on issues affected by population growth. It was granted charitable status on 9 May 2006. Population Matters was adopted as its campaign name in 2011.
Views and aims
Population Matters aims to achieve a future with decent living standards for all, a healthy and biodiverse environment and a sustainable population size. The charity holds the following policy positions:
Population growth increases damage to the environment and depletes natural resources. Therefore, human numbers should be reduced voluntarily to a sustainable level that enables an acceptable quality of life for all.
- Given that the Earth cannot sustain current levels of human activity , Population Matters argues that population stabilisation should be a priority.
- The United Nations projects that global population size will reach 9.8 billion in the year 2050 and 11.2 in 2100, which illustrates the urgency of the matter according to the organisation.
Development and climate change
Population growth increases the number of wealthy carbon emitters as well as the number of people threatened by climate change. In 2018, humanity used the sustainable resource output of 1.7 Earths.
- A study of affluent countries has shown that the countries with more equality of income (e.g. Japan) consume less resources and generate less waste than the ones with less income equality (e.g. USA). Consequently, Population Matters supports greater equality of income.
- Developed countries are responsible for the majority of resource consumption as well as the associated global environmental degradation. Therefore, the developed world has a responsibility to support developing nations. 
- Population Matters supports the concept of Contraction and Convergence as conceived by the Global Commons Institute.
Women’s rights and reproductive health
Women’s empowerment and gender equality are essential for reproductive health, economic development and population stabilisation. The United Nations state "In fact, reproductive rights are integral to realizing all the Sustainable Development Goals." Population Matters therefore supports programmes to improve the status of women.
- Population Matters embraces the Sustainable Development Goals that see women’s empowerment as a necessary condition for sustainable development.
- Comparisons made between developing nations that experienced rapid fertility decline and those that did not found that high fertility increases absolute levels of poverty by slowing economic growth and worsening the distribution of additionally acquired resources. Consequently, the organisation promotes policies improving access to contraceptives.
Migration often results from conflict, poverty, inequality or population and consumption pressures. Population Matters calls for fair trade terms and increased foreign aid and knowledge transfer to promote sustainable development, global justice and resilience.
- Population Matters believes that the only just and long-term solution to migration pressure is to address its underlying causes in the countries of origin, such as poverty, lack or over exploitation of resources, climate change and conflict.
- The organisation believes that developed countries have a moral responsibility to help with this because they contribute to migratory pressures (as major consumers of resources from developing countries) and are the predominant cause of climate change.
Ageing and parenthood
- Population Matters rejects the case that more young people are required to care for an increasing number of elderly. It believes that governments should promote responsible parenthood and limit subsidies to the first two children unless a family is living in poverty.
- Population Matters promotes the idea that society should deal with ageing by enabling employment for untrained, underemployed and older people and by optimising the use of technology.
The organisation campaigns to stabilise population at a sustainable level through encouraging a culture shift towards smaller family sizes worldwide and improving resources for women's empowerment and family planning in lower income countries. Over the years, the organization has supported various campaigns, including Caroline Lucas’ Bill to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) a statutory requirement in state-funded schools. It also informs the public via the media and produces material to help its supporters raise awareness of population growth. Finally, the charity researches headlines and assumptions to examine the issues in depth, for example, analyzing the latest United Nations' statistics, or exploring the impacts of UK population growth on biodiversity. The research is published in their Journal of Population and Sustainability.
The charity runs Empower to Plan, a crowdfunding project that offers members of the public the opportunity to donate directly towards family planning and women's empowerment projects around the world. This project superseded the carbon offsetting project called PopOffsets.
Other activities include the Population Matters Overshoot Index, which presents assessments of the extent to which countries and regions of the world are considered to be able to support themselves on the basis of their own renewable resources. It also commissions educational videos, such as “Zombie Overpopulation”.
Population Matters' patrons include prominent and successful public figures such as the broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, Jonathon Porritt, the economist Sir Partha Dasgupta, the biologist Professor Paul Ehrlich, the primatologist Dr Jane Goodall, Professor John Guillebaud and Leilani Münter.
In 2013, Population Matters was criticised for advocating that Syrian refugees should not be accommodated in the UK, calling for “zero-net migration” to the UK and for supporting a UK government policy of stopping child benefit and tax credits for third and subsequent children. In 2017, the organisation stopped advocating for these policies, replacing them with a call for a Sustainable Population Policy.
- Futures studies
- List of countries by population
- List of countries by population growth rate
- List of population concern organizations
- List of sovereign states and dependent territories by birth rate
- List of sovereign states and dependent territories by population density
- Optimum population
- Political demography
- Population ageing
- Population density
- Population pyramid
- Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth
- Tragedy of the commons
- World population
- Zero population growth
- "Smaller families". populationmatters.org.
- "Consume mindfully". populationmatters.org.
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- "Governance". Population Matters. 13 September 2018. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
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- "Does Population Growth Impact Climate Change?". Scientific American. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
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- Martin, Roger (23 October 2011). "Why current population growth is costing us the Earth | Roger Martin". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- "PSHE briefing for MPs | Caroline Lucas". www.carolinelucas.com. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
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- "Campaigns". Population Matters. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
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- "Population Matters — Media Trust". www.mediatrust.org. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- "Overshoot Index" (PDF). Population Matters. 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- "Our team - Population Matters". Population Matters. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
- "Governance". Population Matters. 13 September 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
- "Patrons - Population Matters". Population Matters. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
- "The charity which campaigned to ban Syrian refugees from Britain". openDemocracy. 23 September 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
- "Sustainable population policy - Population Matters". Retrieved 24 January 2019.