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Right now, world leaders are meeting in Katowice, Poland for the COP24 Conference to finalize the negotiations outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement. Unfortunately, the agenda indicates no discussion about the greatest factor in mitigating human impact on climate: sustainable family planning. Much of the agenda revolves around reigning in industrial emissions. Certainly, that’s important, but aren’t we missing the elephant in the room? Those emissions are driven by the demand that people create.

We’re a already facing life with more deadly acts of nature, like the California wildfires that took 101 lives and the east coast hurricanes that took 87 lives this year. We’re also seeing less habitable land, water scarcity, and the extinction of wildlife at an alarming rate.

Our kids are depending on us to save their future in the little time left before we reach a point of no return. Most of the world leaders in attendance at the COP24 conference are parents themselves. As illustrated by the list below, a large portion of them are doing their part to set an example by having a small family with no more than two kids.

List of Speakers for Heads of State and Heads of Government High-Level Segment:

Leaders with small families:
His Excellency Mr. Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of Nauru – 1 kid (adopted)
His Excellency Mr. Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi, President of Botswana – 1 kid
His Excellency Mr. Raimonds Vējonis, President of Latvia – 2 kids
His Excellency Mr. Rumen Georgiev Radev, President of Bulgaria – 2 kids
His Excellency Mr. Borut Pahor, President of Slovenia – 1 kid
His Excellency Mr. Milo Djukanovic, President of Montenegro – 1 kid
His Excellency Mr. Alexander Van der Bellen, President of Austria – 2 kids
Her Excellency Ms. Bidhya Devi Bhandari, President of Nepal – 2 kids
His Excellency Mr. Pedro Sánchez Perez-Castejón, President of the Government of Spain – 2 kids
His Excellency Mr. Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands – no kids
Her Excellency Ms. Ana Brnabić, Prime Minister of Serbia – no kids
His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See – celibate
His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid of the Kingdom of Morocco – 1 kid
His Excellency Mr. Gjorge Ivanov, President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – 1 kid

Leaders with large families
His Excellency Mr. Alain Berset, President of Switzerland – 3 kids
His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg – 5 kids
His Excellency Mr. Sauli Väinämö Niinistö, President of Finland – 3 kids
His Excellency Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria – 10 kids
His Excellency Mr. Ilir Meta, President of Albania – 3 kids
His Excellency Mr. Frank V. Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji – 5 kids
His Excellency Mr. Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia – 4 kids
Mr. Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission – 3 kids

Leaders with an unknown family size
His Excellency Mr. Mirco Tomassoni (unknown)
His Excellency Mr. Luca Santolini, Captains Regent of San Marino – (unknown)
His Excellency Mr. Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, Prime Minister of Eswatini – (unknown)
Her Excellency Ms. Saara Kuugongelwa Amadhila, Prime Minister of Namibia – (unknown)

Leaders from wealthy countries that have grown rich through colonization have the greatest obligation to reduce their family size and lead by example because of the disparate impact wealthy countries/populations have on the environment, because of the history of exploitation of other countries, and because human rights-based family planning change must account for culture. We all must acknowledge that, and account for the difference. But some change by all is necessary. 

These leaders have the power to bring a discussion to the forefront on the need for nations to promote smaller families and sustainable family planning. The Fair Start model offers a human rights-based solution that accounts for the needs of future children and the world in which they are born.

We have asked the Secretary General of the U.N. to issue a new statement on family planning, urging the world to choose smaller families. We are also calling on world leaders to incorporate sustainable family planning into their nations’ respective climate action plans in order to achieve the targets set in the Paris Climate Accord.

Tweet UN Secretary-General @antonioguterres with the hashtag #COP24 and ask when sustainable families will be part of #sustainabledevelopmentgoals. And add your name to our letter here.

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