GFDD in Partnership with the United Nations Population Fund Present Forum on Population Dynamics and Climate Change

August 31, 2010

Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE), in association with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), presented the forum “Population Dynamics and Climate Change: Links and Political

Presentations were based on findings presented in the book “Population Dynamics and Climate Change” published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED). The publication includes 14 essays compiled by 24 authors.

The event featured presentations by the book’s contributors José Miguel Guzmán (Chief,
Population and Development Branch, UNFPA), George Martine (Consultant, UNFPA), Mark Montgomery (Senior Associate, Poverty, Gender and Youth Program, Population Council), and Deborah Balk (Associate Professor, Baruch School of Public Affairs and Associate Director, Institute of Demographic Research, CUNY). The forum was moderated by Omar Ramírez, Director of the Center for Environmental and Sustainable Development Studies, FUNGLODE; and Executive Vice-President of the Presidential
Commission on Climate Change and the Clean Development Mechanism for the Government of the Dominican Republic.

Speakers discussed the important linkages between demographic tendencies and climate change, emphasizing the value of population data in climate change analysis.

Dominican expert José Miguel Guzmán stressed the relevance of the book in spotlighting the relationship between demographic changes and green house gas emissions,
the impacts of climate induced migration, and the vulnerability of specific segments of the population such as women, children and the poor.

George Martine spoke of the importance of sustainable production and consumption, as well as fertility reduction, in climate change mitigation. He warned that current global consumption and fertility projections
indicate that by the year 2030 global demands will exceed the Earth’s carrying capacity, and advocated for more sustainable growth paradigms that incorporate fertility reduction strategies. He also pointed out the need for pro-active urban planning and policy creation that takes into consideration inevitable future urban growth.

Mark Montgomery echoed Martine’s call forward-thinking urban planning. He explained that almost all future growth will occur
in cities and towns located in developing countries, citing that by 2050, urban populations in poor countries will increase by approximately 3 billion. Montgomery specified that urban dwellers will be greater exposed to climatic risks such as tropical storms, flooding, landslides, drought and water scarcity. He emphasized the need for urban adaptation strategies that are spacially specific and for increased collaboration between experts in the social sciences and bio-geophysics.

Deborah Balk drove home the need to quantify vulnerability, illustrating the value of vulnerability mapping and the importance of local responses to climate change. She stressed that climate-related impacts will not be equally felt, but rather spacially specific. She argued that urban planning and adaptation strategies must take into account local data if human and economic losses are to be prevented.

The event, held at 8:00 p.m. in the FUNGLODE auditorium, was attended by Dominican President Leonel Fernández; Pablo Tactuk, Director of the National Statistics Office; Hilka Meléndez, representative of the UN Population Fund in the DR and Ernesto Reyna Alcántara, Vice Minister of Environment Management of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, among other important figures.

About the panelists

José Miguel Guzmán is the Chief of the Population and Development Branch of UNFPA. He holds a Ph.D. in Demography from the University of Montreal, Canada. He works on a wide range of issues related to population and development, including climate change, urbanization, ageing, fertility transition, child and maternal mortality and health, gender, international
migration, poverty, natural disaster impacts and surveys/census and information systems.

Deborah Balk is Associate Professor at the Baruch School of Public Affairs and Associate Director of the Institute of Demographic Research at the City University of New York. Until fall 2006, she was research scientist at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University. While there, she was lead project scientist for
the NASA-funded Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center and worked on large-scale data integration and analysis of geographic, survey and administrative data. Her current research focus is on urbanization and climate change.

George Martine is a Canadian sociologist and demographer who has worked most of his life on development issues in Latin America. An independent consultant in Brazil, he recently authored UNFPA’s path-breaking
book, Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth.

Mark R. Montgomery is a Professor of Economics at Stony Brook University and a Senior Associate in the Poverty, Gender and Youth Program at the Population Council in New York. He currently serves as the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP). Dr. Montgomery holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan.