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 onto each other and either advancing the health of the planet — or working against it.
Population, Health and Environment (PHE) programming tends to include 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 examples:
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