Ask anyone for the major dilemmas facing our planet and they will probably cite water and food shortage problems, reliance on fossil fuels, global warming and environmental issues and—perhaps—the difficulties governments face maintaining economies based on growth when the number of jobs falls short of requirements and there are insufficient taxes pouring into national treasuries as a result.
All of which—in my view—are related to a very central issue. Population growth.
A quick fact and a quick forecast: the world’s population reached 7 billion (7,000,000,000) in October 2011. It is expected to grow by 50% (a further 3.5 billion or 3,500,000,000) by 2050.
It’s clearly a big (very big) problem for all of us so you’d expect world leaders to be prepared for a lively debate on the subject when the United Nations hold a summit (as they did at the end of June) on global sustainable development.
They weren’t prepared however. They didn’t have to be.
That’s because reproductive health (family planning) wasn’t on the agenda. That’s despite the 215 million women in the world with no access to modern contraception.
Why is this—the most important subject—being brushed under the carpet? Because it’s difficult. Because it arouses strong opinions. Because some see intervention as contravening human rights. And because population control has had a chequered history with some serious abuses.
Leadership is about many things—but it’s especially about tackling the most problematic issues… going where angels fear to tread.
That will be as true for you in your company as for any world leader right now. You know there are issues which you must engage with at some point.
There’s no time like the present.
Tags: chequered history contraception environmental issues food shortage fossil fuels global issue global sustainable development global warming health family lively debate many things population control population growth problematic issues reproductive health strong opinions treasuries women in the world world leader world leaders