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Sustainable Society:  A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.








Project Overview


The ramifications of continued population growth in the United States provide a profound need for developing and implementing a national, coherent, and fair population policy. In an effort to stimulate such an initiative this project will focus on U.S. population issues, including formulation of a plan to establish and implement a U.S. population policy in this nation characterized by fairness and equity. These recommendations would be drawn in part from the 1972 Commission on Population Growth and the American Future (Rockefeller Commission), the 1992 United Nations Convention on Environment & Development (Rio Conference), the 1994 Programme of Action of the International Conference and Population and Development (Cairo Conference) and the 1995 recommendations of the President's Commission on Sustainable Development.

As described in the Executive Summary, the project will have five parts:

* Focus Groups and Participant Organization Recommendations

* Pre-conference Working Sessions

* Preparatory Conferences (Prepcons)

* National Conference

* Implementation and Publications

This project is unique. Rather than sponsoring a one-time event, the goal is to establish an ongoing dialogue and series of working relationships among an interdisciplinary group of project participants. These participants will utilize the Pre-conference Working Sessions, Prepcons, and the National Population Policy Conference to plan a subsequent campaign (the National Population Policy Implementation phase) to advocate adoption of a coherent, fair, population policy in the U.S.

The National Population Policy Implementation campaign will be launched in cooperation with other key participants, including political leaders, national environmental and population groups, religious groups, educators, social justice groups, civic groups and grassroots organizations and others. The project will complement the work of current population stabilization efforts of many organizations by providing a central policy focus.

A. Focus Groups and Participant Organization Recommendations

As the first component of the project, focus groups will be used to more fully assess the values, attitudes and opinions that Americans have concerning reproductive decisions, reproductive health care, immigration, consumption, population stabilization and population policy. The project will construct a series of surveys and/or focus groups that will provide information regarding the following issues:

* Knowledge of Americans about rates of population growth in this country and in other nations

* Knowledge of Americans about per capita and aggregate levels of resource use and pollution resulting from the U.S. population

* Factors related to reproductive decision making and family size in the U.S.; e.g., the availability of reproductive health care and contraception; the status of women; social, economic and environmental factors; and other considerations that motivate people to have a particular family size.

* Attitudes toward family planning and perceptions as to information about and access to family planning and birth control

* Attitudes toward U.S. population size, stabilization policy, and immigration policy

* Sources of information that can cause individuals to reassess their perceptions of optimal family size and appropriate population levels in the United States

In addition, the project will work with population, environmental, reproductive health care, social and other organizations with widespread memberships and encourage them to participate in this process. Cosponsors, participating organizations and other interested parties will be invited to express their views on the subjects covered by the focus groups and on other issues that may relate to national population policy. In preparing those comments, participating organizations may want to poll their members or hold discussions about the particular issues. Questionnaires will be used so that the comments of participating organizations can be readily organized and compared for use in the pre-conference working sessions.

B. Pre-Conference Working Sessions

To enhance the prospects for achieving the goal of formulating a coherent and fair U.S. population policy, the project will convene an initial expert, brain-storming and planning session to build upon the results of the national population policy focus groups and the contributions of participant organizations.

* The project will draw upon the panel format employed by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences as a model for these sessions. The approach of the Academy is to have a small group of multidisciplinary specialists work outside the glare of publicity to assess the issues and develop constructive, sound policies for implementation. Approximately 10 specialists representing the environmental, agricultural, biological, health, energy, ethical, public policy, communication, economic, and social science disciplines will meet for a 4-day working session to review the new data and the work of past commissions and conferences in order to provide a focus for national consideration for the development of a comprehensive and equitable U.S. population policy. The specialists will prepare a draft outlining various options for a population policy and stabilization levels, exploring the costs and benefits of each option. They will make a recommendation as to the best U.S. population policy of the options that they considered. The specialists will also recommend various approaches to achieve acceptance and implementation of a population policy and will discuss and finalize the topics and format for the regional preparatory conferences and the National Population Policy Conference. This draft will be reviewed by approximately 20 additional multidisciplinary specialists and amended if appropriate. The draft will then be sent to the participating organizations (cosponsors) in preparation for consideration at the Prepcons.

The purpose of this Working Session is to:

* Discuss the results of the focus group study (described above) to identify the discrete attitudes and values that underpin both the reproductive decision-making of Americans and perception of the policy objectives and consequences related to immigration.

* Review and consider contributions of participant organizations (cosponsors).

* Review and assess demographic data regarding fertility and immigration rates that affect the rate of growth and potential stabilization for the U.S. population.

* Prepare a draft which outlines and analyzes various options for U.S. population policy and stabilization, exploring the costs and benefits of each option, and make a recommendation as the best policy option

* Identify a set of strategies which could influence attitudes and values leading toward the stabilizing of the U.S. population. Discuss avenues for achieving these objectives, including sources of funding and support from political leaders, national population and environmental organizations, civic, social justice, and religious groups, educators, individuals, corporations, grassroots organizations, and the media

* Develop a tentative U.S. Population Policy and suggest various approaches to achieving acceptance and implementation of such a policy

* Identify the stakeholders and key decision makers in this debate, in order that such groups and individuals may attend the National Population Policy Conference

* Discuss the optimal structure of the National Population Policy Conference, with the objectives of maximizing attendance and prompting publicity by the national media

The results of the initial survey/focus group research, along with the contributions of the participating grassroots organizations will be provided to the expert participants prior to the Pre-Conference Working Session. Each participant will be asked to draft a 3-5 page memorandum, in advance, for presentation at the session. The memorandum should describe the potential role of each participant's respective discipline in addressing the concerns, attitudes and values expressed in the population focus groups with the goal of gaining public support for stabilizing the U.S. population. Attendees of the Pre-Conference Working Sessions may also make presentations at the National Population Policy Conference.

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