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Population Environment Research Network (PERN)

Landy Sanchez (El Colegio de México)
Richard E. Bilsborrow (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Andres Ignacio (Environmental Science for Social Change)
Leiwen Jiang (National Center for Atmospheric Research and Shanghai University)
Raya Muttarak (Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU), Vienna Institute of Demography/Austrian Academy of Sciences)
David Rain (George Washington University)
Susana Beatriz Adamo (CIESIN-Columbia University)
Alexander De Sherbinin (Columbia University)
Council Liaison 
Sureeporn Punpuing (Mahidol University)
IUSSP Secretariat 
Paul Monet (International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP))
Terms of Reference: 

PERN is an interdisciplinary network open to researchers and policymakers interested in population and environment issues. The network's website is hosted by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University. As an Internet-based forum accessible to researchers and practitioners worldwide, PERN provides members with access to the latest publications and research on population and environment issues and fosters international cooperation and capacity building. Through regular cyber seminars, scholars in developed and developing countries participate in debates on population and environment issues. PERN provides its members services such as a regular email update called What's New with information on upcoming conferences, workshops, job and grant opportunities, and a keyword-driven searchable member database. PERN also collects and disseminates ongoing, new, and classic work in the population-environment field in an online eLibrary and the Population-Environment Collection provides monthly links to all new Population-Environment articles in 70 different journals, permitting easy tracking of research developments.


For more information please visit the PERN website :


Read PERN's NEWSLETTER: "What's New"

See March 2015 report.



Cyberseminar on Water and Population Dynamics

5-16 October 2015

UNFCCC's New Work Program: Loss & Damage from Climate Change

28 October-1 November 2013

IPCC's New Scenario Process: Shared Socioeconomic Pathways

7-14 October 2013

Bringing the Population-Sustainable Development Debate to a Higher Level

7 -14 May 2012


Cyberseminar on Preparing for Population Displacement and Resettlement Associated with Climate Change and Large Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Projects
1-14 November 2011

Synthesis of PERN Cyberseminar 1-15 Nov 2011

Even if average global temperatures are kept from rising above 2° C, it is likely that climate change impacts will result in significant population displacements. In addition to these direct impacts, large-scale projects such as dams, coastal defenses, water transfer schemes, and renewable energy complexes developed in the name of mitigation and adaptation are also likely to induce major population displacements. While these projects are intended to reduce the risks attendant to climate change, there will inevitably be social, cultural, and economic dislocations for communities residing in areas of project development.

The cyberseminar will address population displacement and the potential need for organized resettlement owing to climate change and associated adaptation and mitigation projects. The seminar is based in part on discussions that took place at a November 2011 Bellagio Conference on the same topic. (For more information visit:

The purpose of cyberseminars is to provide a forum for scientists from the social and natural sciences to debate and discuss cutting edge population-environment research topics. To read the full description of the seminar, access background papers and read instructions on how to participate in this cyberseminar please go to:


Cyberseminar on “What are the Remote Sensing Data Needs of the Population-Environment Research Community?” 10-24 May 2010
This cyberseminar was organized by the Population-Environment Research Network (PERN), and co-sponsored by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). Nine invited experts provided statements and approximately 570 researchers participated in the seminar. The discussion was structured around a set of 11 questions that sought to define the branches of population-environment research that use remote sensing data, their specific data needs, as well as barriers to using remote sensing data. The seminar ended with a discussion of how to build a broad consensus across the social science community on what remote sensing data is most needed. To view the postings, the experts’ statements and a summary of the cyberseminar by Alex de Sherbinin, please go to:


Training Workshop in Geospatial Analysis for Attaining the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development, Bonn, Germany, 20-24 April 2009
In conjunction with the 2009 Open Meeting of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University held a five-day training in geospatial data analysis techniques. The training was customized to help staff from census bureaus, health ministries, and non-governmental organizations in developing countries learn to use and apply geospatial tools to support efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and promote sustainable development. The training consisted of an overview of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and techniques in spatial analysis, use of spatial statistics, and integration of national census and survey data with global hazards data sets. Participants from India, Philippines, Uganda, Thailand, Vanuatu, Cameroon, Benin and Chile attended the workshop, led by CIESIN geospatial applications associate director Mark Becker. 
Digital recording of the training and course materials (hands-on exercises using GIS, Power-Points) are available at the following link:
Additional exercises and data sets will be posted throughout the year.


Cyberseminar on Theoretical and Methodological Issues of the Analysis of Population Dynamics and the Environment, 2-13 February 2009 
This cyberseminar was organized by the Population-Environment Research Network (PERN) in collaboration with the Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE), Frankfurt/Main, Germany to examine the theoretical and methodological aspects of research into the population-environment nexus. A total of 530 people registered to participate in the cyberseminar and 51 postings were made. The major goal of the cyberseminar was to conduct a critical evaluation of existing theory and methodology in the field of population-environment-development (PED) studies, one which seeks to bring the impact of theory on policy and praxis into focus. Secondly, this cyberseminar introduced a new social-ecological perspective to PED studies, which is the Population & Supply Systems approach. This is an interdisciplinary approach that structures the nexus of population, environment and society in theoretically and methodologically novel ways. Through the cyberseminar, the applicability of this approach was discussed by comparing it with other perspectives such as sustainable livelihoods, carrying capacity, IPAT/STIRPAT, ecological footprint and political ecology. This was PERN's first seminar focused on the theoretical and methodological foundations of PED research. A background paper by Diana Hummel, Alexandra Lux, Alex de Sherbinin, and Susana B. Adamo, as well as papers from five invited experts were made available to participants. These documents can be downloaded at:


Cyberseminar on Environmentally Induced Population Displacements, cyberspace, 18-29 August 2008
This cyberseminar was organized by the Population-Environment Research Network (PERN) in collaboration with the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Partial support for this cyberseminar was provided by the ECSP. A total of 513 people registered to participate in the cyberseminar and 56 posting were made. The overall purpose of this cyberseminar was to determine if there is consensus on the definitional issues as well as on the magnitude of flows, and what the evidence shows from regional studies regarding the relative weight of environmental versus other factors in displacing populations. It examined the evidence for significant population displacements from areas deemed to be environmentally degraded or excessively hazard-prone. It also reviewed evidence for migration out of metropolitan areas or industrial zones owing to air pollution or health concerns. A particular focus was made on the type and demographic features of these migratory streams: family or individual moves, age and sex profile of migrants, social and economic characteristics, probability of return, and length of stay at the destination. The cyberseminar also considered potential future population displacements as a result of climate change, in particular changes in rainfall patterns and sea-level rise, which some have claimed will dwarf all contemporary population movements. A background paper by Susana B. Adamo, as well as papers from four invited experts were made available to participants. These documents can be downloaded at:


Cyberseminar on Population & Natural Hazards, 5-19 November 2007
This cyberseminar was organized by the Population-Environment Research Network (PERN).The cyberseminar discussed the relationship between population and natural hazards examining the contributions demography can make to research on hazards vulnerability, and, in particular, understanding of the demographic and socioeconomic components of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. Over 450 PERN and IUSSP members registered to participate in this cyberseminar. A brief description of the seminar, a background paper by Daniel Hogan and Eduardo Marandola as well as papers from five invited experts are available at:


Cyberseminar on Population-Development-Environment Linkages in the Sudano-Sahelian Zone of West Africa3-14 September 2007
This cyberseminar was organized by the Population-Environment Research Network (PERN). A total of 420 people registered to participate. The purpose of this cyberseminar was to examine the linkages among population, development and environmental processes in rural agrarian communities of the Sudano-Sahelian zone in West Africa. Droughts in the early 1970s and 1980s prompted many to proclaim this region was heading towards a Malthusian crisis. Through a focus on the results of recent research sponsored by the Programme for International Research on the Interactions between Population, Development and Environment (PRIPODE) of the French Foreign Ministry and the Committee for International Cooperation in National Research in Demography (CICRED), participants discussed whether the gloomy prognoses made twenty years earlier have been borne out and whether agricultural systems coped and adapted to growing population numbers. This cyberseminar was held in French and English. A five-page synopsis of background research together with full papers was made available to participants as background materials in addition to papers from five invited experts. These documents can be downloaded at:


Cyberseminar on “Rural Household Micro-Demographics, Livelihoods and the Environment,” 10-24 April 2006, organized by the IUSSP Population-Environment Research Network (PERN)

The cyber-seminar on rural household micro-demographics, livelihoods and the environment provided a forum for scholars from around the globe and from a wide range of disciplines to discuss recent research examining the reciprocal relationships among household-level population dynamics, rural livelihoods and the environment. This area of research is of particular concern to policy makers working in developing countries where large sectors of the population live in rural areas. The seminar’s objectives were to identify common findings from these studies, and to discuss methodological issues. Discussion, background paper with summary in French, Portuguese and Spanish, and nine expert statements on household lifecycles and land/resource use, migration-environment relations, HIV-AIDS, relationships between poverty, fertility and environmental degradation can be consulted at:


PERN Cyberseminar on Population Dynamics and Millennium Development Goal 7: “Ensuring Environmental Sustainability” 5-16 September 2005 
The Population-Environment Research Network (PERN) successfully concluded its cyberseminar on “Population Dynamics and Millennium Development Goal 7: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability”. More than 400 researchers subscribed to the seminar discussion list. The purpose of this cyberseminar was to examine the reciprocal relationship between population dynamics (i.e., population size, growth, density, geographic distribution, age and sex composition, migration, morbidity and mortality) and Goal 7 of the MDGs, which is to “ensure environmental sustainability”. The cyberseminar background paper by Jason Bremner and Richard Bilsborrow, statements by five invited experts, and an archive of postings is available at


PERN also organized a session on Making Population-Environment Research Relevant to Policy Makers at the 6th Open Meeting of the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Research Community, 9-13 October 2005, and co-sponsored a pre-Open Meeting training workshop on Spatial Data Analysis of Human Dimensions Research. The Open Meeting attracted a record 900 participants from around the world.


Cyber-Seminar: "Urban Expansion: The Environment and Health Dimensions. 29 November-15 December 2004

For more information please visit:


Cyber-Seminar on Population, Consumption and Environment Dynamics
17-31 May 2004.

Call for participation


PERN Workshop on Population, Consumption and the Environment, Montréal, Canada, 19 October 2003.

This workshop, held in conjunction with the Open Meeting of the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Research Community, addressed the conceptual linkage between population, consumption and environment, propose theoretical frameworks and consider the methodological challenges facing researchers. Building upon the research areas set by the National Research Council's publication edited by Stern et al. (1997) in Environmentally Significant Consumption: Research Directions, the goal of this session was to lay out a research agenda for better understanding population, consumption and environment dynamics in the 21st century. The session also showed material presented at the three day Open Meeting for the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Research Community. The result of the session is a research agenda that extends the research questions described by Stern et al. (1997); that explores theories of population, consumption and environment linkages (between developed and less developed countries); and that proposes research methods and data for this relatively new area of research.

Workshop Report


ISSC-IHDP Workshop on Social Science Perspectives on Sustainable Development
Centro Regional de Investigaciones Multidisciplinarias (CRIM), Cuernavaca, Mexico, 1-2 December 2003

The International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the International Human Dimensions Programme for Global Environmental Change (IHDP) co-organized this meeting. It convened 48 social scientists from a broad range of disciplines representing various ISSC constituencies, including IUSSP, IHDP, the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP), the International Peace Research Association, and the International Geographical Union. IUSSP was represented at the meeting by Alex de Sherbinin, Coordinator of the joint IUSSP-IHDP Population-Environment Research Network (PERN). The first day of the workshop included an introduction by ISSC's Secretary General, Dr. Lourdes Arizpe, overview presentations on IHDP's four science projects, and presentations by ISSC representatives on poverty and sustainable development. The second day included breakout sessions and focused on areas of mutual interest, exploring ways in which IHDP could more concretely collaborate with the scientific unions under ISSC. PERN was presented as one model that could help foster collaboration and networking.

Workshop Summary