(CNN) – The issue of overpopulation causing the loss of wildlife in Africa is not one that Prince William overlooks.
While looking for reactions to the speech the second in line to the British throne delivered on Monday at an awards ceremony in which he said “The increasing pressure on Africa’s wildlife and wilderness as a consequence of the human population poses a huge challenge to conservationists,” I came across almost identical statements that I had made four years earlier.
“Throughout my life we have seen the world’s wildlife populations have been reduced by more than half,” they claim the prince said in 2017 at a gala for the same charity, The Tusk Trust. “Africa’s rapidly growing human population is projected to more than double by 2050, a staggering increase of three and a half million people a month. There is no question that this increase puts wildlife and habitat under stress. enormous pressure. “
Then, as now, people have been quick to point out two things: The first is the hypocrisy of the Duke of Cambridge. It is about a man who has determined the size of his family, who travels frequently by plane and who leads a lavish lifestyle (read: generates a large carbon footprint) on one of the 15 countries that consume the most energy of the world. (Energy consumption is a limited measure of the UK’s environmental impact, as the UK largely imports its products. Another country, China, is responsible for the energy used to produce those goods).
The second questionable point of the prince’s statements focuses on the inaccurate conclusions which are followed by the increase in the African population. Although the African population is growing, it is still more sparsely populated than Europe or Asia; Indigenous communities that live closest to wildlife are often excellent stewards of the environment, since its survival depends on him; and, again, it is human behavior, and not the number of people, that most directly harms the biosphere.
But there are more things that are wrong with what Prince William said: By identifying population growth as the problem, he logically presents population control as the solution. This automatically transforms the wombs into legitimate venues for climate policy. In other words, the right of women to contraception and education becomes a weapon: they are no longer tools that help women to access a greater choice, but this goal of gender equality is hijacked to impose the someone else’s agenda.
Let’s imagine for a moment that we accept that population growth, and specifically, population growth in Africa, leads to increased pressure on wildlife, an argument that Prince William considers irrefutable. How should this be approached? A one-child policy as a condition for development aid? How will the impact of this population reduction be measured? Who is going to say if it is enough to mitigate environmental damage? And if it is not, what will happen then?
Prince William seems to have avoided speculating on how to fix his problem. His grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, was not so wise and is known to have asked for the “voluntary family limitation“to cope with a growing human population.
It is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that the women’s body has been implicated in the political agenda. In 2017, Denmark, which tends to top the rankings of the best countries to be a woman, promised additional funds to help women access family planning because “part of the solution to reducing migration pressures on Europe is to reduce the very high population growth of many African countries“.
It should be obvious to all that the panic over population growth in the black, brown and indigenous areas of the world is based on race and class prejudices. It should be equally obvious that what every woman needs is the freedom to choose for herself if she wants to have children, when and how many. If, despite his years of talking about conservation, Prince William has not considered that his concern for the wildlife of Africa could stigmatize the women of Africa, perhaps now is the time to do so.