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Delegates preparing for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) have been warned that problems such as freshwater depletion, climate change, biodiversity loss and degradation of agricultural lands, are each exacerbated by rapid population growth.

The delegates, currently meeting for the fourth preparatory committee meeting for the WSSD in Bali, Indonesia, have also been told that high consumption rates magnify the environmental impacts of population growth in high-income countries.

The warnings come in a statement on population in sustainable development drawn up after extensive discussions by the Global Science Panel on Population and Environment, and presented to the meeting by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).

Introducing the statement during a side-event at the Prepcom meeting, Wolfgang Lutz of IIASA pointed out that it calls on the WSSD to remember that human beings are at the centre of sustainable development by taking full account of the way in which society interacts with the environment.

The statement emphasises that empowerment through education and reproductive health has multiple benefits for people and the environment, and that efforts to achieve sustainable development should give these policies the highest priority.

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