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Hence the challenge now is to quickly lower population growth rates, especially in regions such as Africa, where these rates are increasing. Birth rates declined in industrial countries largely because of economic and social development.
Rising levels of income and urbanization and the changing role of women all played important roles. Similar processes are now at work in developing countries. These should be recognized and encouraged.
Population policies should Does our democracy needs cleaning up integrated with other economic and social development programmes female education, health care, and the expansion of the livelihood base of the poor. But time is short, and developing countries will also have to promote direct measures to reduce fertility, to avoid going radically beyond the productive potential to support their populations.
In fact, increased access to family planning services is itself a form of social development that allows couples, and women in particular, the right to self-determination.
Population growth in developing countries will remain unevenly distributed between rural and urban areas. UK projections suggest that by the first decade of the next century, the absolute size of rural populations in most developing countries will start declining.
Nearly 90 per cent of the increase in the developing world will take place in urban areas, the population of which in expected to rise from 1. Developing-country cities are growing much faster than the capacity of authorities to cope.
Shortages of housing, water, sanitation, and mass transit are widespread. A growing proportion of city-dwellers live in slums and shanty towns, many of them exposed to air and water pollution and to industrial and natural hazards.
Further deterioration is likely, given that most urban growth will take place in the largest cities. Thus more manageable cities may be the principal gain from slower rates of population growth. Urbanization is itself part of the development process. The challenge is to manage the process so as to avoid a severe deterioration in the quality of life.
Thus the development of smaller urban centres needs to be encouraged to reduce pressures in large cities. Solving the impending urban crisis will require the promotion of self-help housing and urban services by and for the poor, and a more positive approach to the role of the informal sector, supported by sufficient funds for water supply, sanitation, and other services.
Conserving and Enhancing the Resource Base However, the case for the conservation of nature should not rest only with development goals. It is part of our moral obligation to other living beings and future generations. Pressure on resources increases when people lack alternatives. In a hilly area, for instance, economic self-interest and ecology can be combined by helping farmers shift from grain to tree crops by providing them with advice, equipment, and marketing assistance.
Programmes to protect the incomes of farmers, fishermen, and foresters against short-term price declines may decrease their need to overexploit resources.
The conservation of agricultural resources is an urgent task because in many parts of the world cultivation has already been extended to marginal lands, and fishery and forestry resources have been overexploited. These resources must be conserved and enhanced to meet the needs of growing populations.
Land use in agriculture and forestry must be based on a scientific assessment of land capacity, and the annual depletion of topsoil, fish stock, or forest resources must not exceed the rate of regeneration.
The pressures on agricultural land from crop and livestock production can be partly relieved by increasing productivity. But short-sighted, short-term improvements in productivity can create different forms of ecological stress, such as the loss of genetic diversity in standing crops, salinization and alkalization of irrigated lands, nitrate pollution of ground-water, and pesticide residues in food.
Ecologically more benign alternatives are available. Future increases in productivity, in both developed and developing countries, should be based on the better controlled application of water and agrochemicals, as well as on more extensive use of organic manures and non-chemical means of pest control.
These alternatives can be promoted only by an agricultural policy based on ecological realities. In the case of fisheries and tropical forestry, we rely largely on the exploitation of the naturally available stocks.All this confusion among agencies does not help the average consumer when it comes to safety and health.
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