People organize themselves into societies because of the promise
of a better life. Making good on that promise is the purpose of development. It
is not a goal, but an ongoing activity,
Societies are complex organisms, consisting of a myriad of
dynamic, interacting components. For development to work, it must respect this
complexity and make progress on many fronts at once. For development to make
life better, it must help people become more secure, free of the fear that
development and its benefits might not last. To provide that security,
development must have continuity, it must be sustainable indefinitely.
To be sustainable, development must flow from the priorities of
the society in which it is taking place. People at all levels must have a hand
in shaping those priorities for the resulting programs to meet the real needs of
society and be workable within the means available. Sustainable development is
the process of realizing the potential inherent in a society and the environment
in which that society lives. Rather than pushing existing capacity to the
breaking point, sustainable development works within available resources and,
where it can, builds capacity further.
This paper provides an overview of the critical capacity
building measures needed in the broad area of population. Population factors
such as growth, distribution, urbanization and others, have definite and
prolonged impacts on the environment and natural resource base of every country.
Developed world populations, through their tremendous consumer capacities, now
have impacts on the natural resources of countries thousands of kilometres
apart. High population growth rates in poor countries often result in a legacy
of ruined and mismanaged resources. Third World cities are becoming overwhelmed
by the influx of migrants from the countryside seeking better opportunities for
themselves and their families. But besieged municipal governments find
themselves running just to stand still, unable to keep up with the demand for
adequate services medical care, education, housing, family planning, clean
drinking water and sanitation, among others.
Understanding how population factors interact with and influence
the management of natural resources is an important first step in evolving
comprehensive population policies integrated into a country's overall
development objectives. Since the impact of population factors is felt on all
other areas of development, it could be argued that the adoption of population
policies and the provision of reproductive health services should be two of the
main considerations in any country's move towards sustainable human development
and the rational husbanding of resources. Only by strengthening these important
threads in the fabric of society, can society move closer to being able to
provide the quality of life for which so many still yearn.