According to the United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA), global population is currently 7 billion and isprojected to rise to 9 billion by the end of the century. The need to be conscious of the carrying capacity of theplanet will play a fundamental role in all future work forpoverty eradication and protection of the environment.Evidence presented by the UNFPA shows that human rightsbased approaches are effective in changing demographictrends. As shown in a 2010 report by Susheela Singh etal., published in
Studies in Family Planning
, a full 41% of pregnancies worldwide are unintended. Availability and easyaccess to family planning methods slow population growth,reduce stress on the environment, and decrease poverty.Consequently, the impacts of reproductive rights and healthextend far beyond women.Omitting safeguards for demographic policies supportingwomen’s right to choose the number, timing and spacing of their pregnancies compromises the realization of all othersustainable development objectives. All issues of women'sempowerment, including education and inclusion in theworkforce, are enabled in large part by these choices. Giventhe impact of childbearing and childrearing on a woman’slife, we believe that a woman’s fundamental human right toself-determination includes the right to choose the timingand spacing of pregnancies, and that a woman who cannoteasily control her childbearing will not be able to easily controlother aspects of her life. Access to family planning methodscan help lift families out of poverty and provide better futuresfor their children, including better nutrition and education. The link between population dynamics, sexual andreproductive rights and sustainable development hasbeen noted in numerous other international agreements.Rio Principle 8 emphasizes that “to achieve sustainabledevelopment and a higher quality of life for all people, Statesshould...promote appropriate demographic policies.” TheFifth Millenium Development Goal aims to “achieve universalaccess to reproductive health” by 2015. The UN InternationalConference on Population and Development, held in 1994,recognized the “basic right” of women and their partnersto choose “the number, spacing and timing of their childrenand to have the information and means...to attain the higheststandard of sexual and reproductive health” (ICPD Programof Action, para 7.3). The 21st century is the time to nally make family planningmethods and education about them easily available andacceptable, not only for the sake of women, but for the sakeof all people today and in the future. SustainUS thereforecalls for the inclusion of text promoting reproductive andsexual health and rights in the Rio+20 Outcome Document. As young people, we recognize the fundamental importancethat women’s rights will have on our future world. Althoughthe negotiating text regarding sexual and reproductive rightshave improved dramatically since the 2nd IntersessionalMeeting, there is still resistance from key groups andMember States. Those states who are actively opposing anyand all language proposing sexual and reproductive health,are adopting a position we see as antithetical to the veryconcept of sustainable development. We urge all MemberStates and organizations of the United Nations to supporttext that recognizes these fundamental rights for womenand for the benet of all people.