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Scientists, policy-makers and the media must learn to better understand the interactions between population, environment and development, according to a report by an international panel of 30 scientists released this week at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The report by the Global Science Panel on Population and Environment — which was set up jointly by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population — warns that the world is going through a period of unprecedented demographic change.

"If we do not put the human population at the core of the sustainable development agenda, our efforts to improve human well-being and preserve the quality of the environment will fail," the panel concludes in its science policy statement.

To address environmental issues such as freshwater depletion, climate change, and biodiversity loss, the panel says that more interdisciplinary research is required at all levels.

"The systemic integration of population into sustainable development is essential if we are to meet the needs of present generations without sacrificing the livelihoods of future generations," says Wolfgang Lutz from IIASA, one of the panel's coordinators.

The report also presents a survey of major international decisions and goals over the past few decades, together with graphical representations of progress in the areas of education, health, poverty, and hunger.

Link to full report PDF document

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