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December 3, 2006

Dear Members of the General Council of the Transnational Radical Party,

Marco Cappato invited me to send a brief message to the Council for your gathering in Brussels.

Every day there is additional evidence that human population growth of nearly 80 million a year is rapidly exceeding the carrying capacity of the planet.  Many forms of pollution, including greenhouse gases, are causing irreparable harm to the environment. Expanding human habitation threatens many of our fellow species and is leading to massive extinctions and loss of biodiversity.  Every continent faces a growing shortage of fresh water.  Conflicts over energy supplies are aggravating political tensions. Continuing large family size and adolescent childbearing are major contributors to poverty and poor health.

While much progress has been made in providing family planning information and services worldwide, nearly half of the reproductive-age couples of the world do not use family planning methods. Lack of access to services accounts for only 2% of the non-use. The reasons given for non-use of family planning in developing countries are the desire for large families, fear of side effects of contraceptives, male opposition, the belief that one’s deity has pre-determined how many children they will have, and religious prohibitions. These cultural and informational barriers can most effectively be overcome by motivational communications via the mass media.

As all elected officials know, motivation is the key to behavior change.  Population Media Center’s (PMC) programs use a proven methodology to achieve behavior change in population and reproductive health issues by creating long running serialized dramas in which key characters gradually evolve into role models for the audience with regard to small family norms, use of family planning, elevation of women’s status, and related social and health goals. These changes in social norms that result from our programs are profound, as evidenced by scientific research in numerous countries. They are based on a respect for human rights in that they don’t tell audience members how to behave, but rather show the consequences of various behaviors of the characters, thus allowing audience members to decide how to behave based on the information they have received.

We welcome a partnership with the Transnational Radical Party in moving this work forward across the globe. PMC has carried out programs in a dozen developing countries, and we have new projects in development in another nine.  Our goal is to be active in the 50 fastest growing countries in the next 10 years. The resources required are small compared to total international development assistance. We need about $30 million a year to operate in those 50 countries of greatest need.  We hope that you can join us with us in making this a reality.

Sincerely,

William N. Ryerson, President of Population Media Center

 

POPULATION MEDIA CENTER

P.O. BOX 547, SHELBURNE, VERMONT 05482-0547 USA

TEL: 802-985-8156 · FAX: 802-985-8119

E-MAIL: pmc@populationmedia.org

WEB: www.populationmedia.org

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