|Focus||Promotion of smaller families and sustainable consumption|
|Method||Campaigning, education, lobbying and research|
|Optimum Population Trust|
Population Matters, formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust, is a UK-based charity that addresses population size and its effects on environmental sustainability. It considers population growth as a major contributor to climate change, environmental degradation, resource depletion, conflict and societal problems such as housing scarcity and transport congestion.
Population Matters was launched as the Optimum Population Trust following a meeting on 24 July 1991 by the late David Willey and others concerned about population numbers and sustainability. They were impelled to act by the failure of United Kingdom governments to respond to population growth and threats to sustainability.
The Optimum Population Trust prepared analyses and lobbied on issues affected by population growth. It was granted charitable status on 9 May 2006. Population Matters was adopted as its campaign name in 2011.
Population Matters aims to achieve a future with decent living standards for all, a healthy and biodiverse environment and a sustainable population size. The charity holds the following policy positions:
Population growth increases damage to the environment and depletes natural resources. Therefore, human numbers should be reduced voluntarily to a sustainable level that enables an acceptable quality of life for all.
Population growth increases the number of wealthy carbon emitters as well as the number of people threatened by climate change. In 2018, humanity used the sustainable resource output of 1.7 Earths.
Women’s empowerment and gender equality are essential for reproductive health, economic development and population stabilisation. The United Nations state "In fact, reproductive rights are integral to realizing all the Sustainable Development Goals." Population Matters therefore supports programmes to improve the status of women.
Migration often results from conflict, poverty, inequality or population and consumption pressures. Population Matters calls for fair trade terms and increased foreign aid and knowledge transfer to promote sustainable development, global justice and resilience.
The organisation campaigns to stabilise population at a sustainable level through encouraging a culture shift towards smaller family sizes worldwide and improving resources for women's empowerment and family planning in lower income countries. Over the years, the organization has supported various campaigns, including Caroline Lucas' Bill to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) a statutory requirement in state-funded schools. It also informs the public via the media and produces material to help its supporters raise awareness of population growth. Finally, the charity researches headlines and assumptions to examine the issues in depth, for example, analyzing the latest United Nations' statistics, or exploring the impacts of UK population growth on biodiversity. The research is published in their Journal of Population and Sustainability.
The charity runs Empower to Plan, a crowdfunding' project that offers members of the public the opportunity to donate directly towards family planning and women's empowerment projects around the world. This project superseded the carbon offsetting project called PopOffsets.
Other activities include the Population Matters Overshoot Index, which presents assessments of the extent to which countries and regions of the world are considered to be able to support themselves on the basis of their own renewable resources. It also commissions educational videos, such as "Zombie Overpopulation".
Population Matters' patrons include prominent and successful public figures such as the broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, Jonathon Porritt, the economist Sir Partha Dasgupta, the biologist Professor Paul Ehrlich, the primatologist Dr Jane Goodall, Professor John Guillebaud and Leilani Münter.
In 2013, Population Matters was criticised for disagreeing with an Amnesty International call on the UK and other EU countries to "significantly increase the number of resettlement and humanitarian admission places for refugees from Syria" while saying that these "countries should continue to support migrants from the Syrian civil war and other conflicts in the countries adjacent to those conflicts", calling for numerically balanced or "zero-net" migration to the UK and for supporting a UK government policy of stopping child benefit and tax credits for third and subsequent children. In 2017, the organisation stopped advocating for these policies, replacing them with a call for a Sustainable Population Policy.