Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) programs offer an integrated approach to solving human development and conservation challenges through improving access to health services — including family planning and reproductive health — while also helping people improve livelihoods, manage natural resources, and conserve the critical ecosystems on which they (and every other species) depend. We must Speak Out about the multiple benefits of PHE programs and advocate for more funding for these innovative and effective programs.
After all, the greatest challenges facing humanity and the natural world are profoundly interrelated. Environmental protection and conservation, sustainable human development, population size and growth, the status of women, sexual and reproductive health and rights: they all connect to each other in complex ways, feeding back into each other and either advancing the health of the planet — or working against it.
Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) programming usually includes components such as family planning and reproductive health, basic health services, education and outreach, sustainable livelihoods, coastal and natural resources management, and biodiversity conservation. PHE can be more effective than single-sector efforts in improving people’s lives and ultimately improves the human relationship with the living Earth as well.
Obviously, people’s health relies on the health of their environment. Their surrounding ecosystem provides them with goods and services such as water, food, medicine, fuel wood, building materials, and other resources. Damage or disruption of these natural goods and services can have severe consequences for human health. PHE programs strive to improve access to health services while also helping communities manage their natural resources in ways that improve their health and livelihood — even as they protect the environment.
Human population growth is a global problem, but it specifically threatens Earth’s ecological hotspots. Unfortunately, human populations living in hotspots are generally growing faster than that of the world as a whole.
PHE is a growing discipline, with many projects taking place around the world.
There are many highly-respected practitioners of PHE around the world, including the following organizations: