GLOBAL SOUTH Project Priorities

GAIA Initiative’s fundamental concern is that planetary human populations are the primary contributor to global warming /climate change. Each human – rich or poor – contributes to our global carbon-footprint.

GAIA’s 32 Annual Grant Awards: 16 to Global South and 16 to Global North

GAIA Initiative Grant Awards are divided equally – 16 to Global South projects and 16 to Global North projects. The regional categories are based upon what is generally understood to be the economic developmental stage of nations or regions. The funding priorities set forth in this web page relate to projects in the less-developed nations of the Global South region.

GLOBAL SOUTH: Less-Developed Economies with High Growth Human Populations

  1. Birth Rates and Population Growth in the Global South
  2. Future Interaction: Economic Development and Population Growth
  3. Funding Priorities: GENERAL and GLOBAL SOUTH REGION
  4. Global South Population Impact Issue-Maps


1. Birth Rates and Population Growth in the Global South

The Global South humans living in less-developed economies are currently a minor environmental driver of global warming /climate change. However, the explosive growth in some regions of the Global South will in the future contribute an ever-greater proportion to our global carbon-footprint.

The different experiences of some less-developed countries – in Asia, Latin America, and Africa – demonstrate the unevenness in fertility changes predicted by Demographic Transition Theory. During the period 1960 to 2005 – with the introduction of efforts at modernization and family planning services – these regions demonstrated significant differences in the decline of their very high fertility rates: In the Asian and Latin American less-developed countries, there was a decline of 61 percent; however, in the 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the rate of change was much lower – a decline of 37 percent.

Global South Nations with Extreme High Birth Rate (births per 1000)

The explosive growth in sub-Saharan nations continues to the present – the population doubling in just 26 years from 1994 to 2020. The most disturbing result of the persistently high sub-Saharan Africa fertility rates is tragic deficits in personal and social well being: pervasive dire poverty, high disease-burden, low educational attainment, and low future prospects for much-needed economic development.


2. Future Interaction: Economic Development and Population Growth

  • In nations with less-developed economies, the per capita carbon footprint is very small.
  • In less-developed nations that lack basic infrastructure, there is little chance of a vibrant diverse economy. There are not roads, bridges, or other network support for efficient land, water, and air transport. There is not universal access to even basic public services: water, electricity, waste management, health care, children’s education. There is a lack of consumer goods and modern conveniences associated with 21st century living. A substantial portion of the population lives in dire poverty.
  • The personal well being deficits from pervasive poverty are significant: in the 48 sub-Saharan nations 87% of the 10-year-olds can not read and 40% of the population live at the meager subsistence level of less than $1.90 per day. 
  • While the cumulative carbon footprint is small in less-developed economies – this is not because of a cultural ethos of low consumption, but [as] the result of lower development, fewer consumer choices, and pervasive poverty. 
  • Despite the widespread material deprivation of the the 48 sub-Saharan nations, the population has increased dramatically – doubling from 568 million to 1.136 billion in the last 26 yrs. 
  • Global South cities are experiencing tremendous growth – from rural-urban migration and also as a result of sustained very high birthrates. SubSaharan Africa now has 44 cities with over one million population – all with pervasive poverty and lack of basic public services.  
  • Based on the significantly high population growth in the recent past, the future projection is for continued high population output in the Global South; This portends significant threats to the region’s political stability as protests emerge from deficits in basic public services.

When in the future there is economic growth as is hoped for – built-out infrastructure, diverse industry, larger scale agriculture, universal public services, and available consumer goods – the expanded populations will surely have explosive growth in per capita carbon output. The combined trends in the Global South of future high population growth and future increases in per capita consumption portend a significant added threat to a sustainable balance between humans and the rest of the life forms on planet earth.

Organizations focused on the long-term impacts of population on the planet are aware of the challenges of reproductive health education and family planning in many less-developed nations. The solutions can seem daunting but must be understood, if progress is to be made. Traditional cultural barriers must be addressed to foster women’s ability to have more control of their lives.

Women should be equal partners in deciding about their childbearing: when to begin, how frequently, and how many children to have. Most women will – when given the option – choose to have fewer children who are healthier, more educated, with brighter future prospects in life. Our goal should be to encourage the delay of having the first child; to explain the advantage of more years of spacing between births; and, to achieve an understanding of the personal and familial benefits of having fewer children per family.


3. Grant Funding GENERAL and GLOBAL SOUTH Priorities

In considering funding of potential projects, the GAIA Project Review Committee considers the following GENERAL Priorities and the GLOBAL SOUTH Region Priorities. The ultimate goal is to demonstrate the social value across cultures of having fewer children per family.

4. Global South Issue-Maps: This webpage includes nine descriptive Issue-Maps that illustrate negative impacts associated with high-population-growth and serve to explain why our Project Review Committee’s gives special priority to projects with related topics in sub-Saharan Africa.

Past Project Proposals Approved by the Grants Review Committee: Interested Organizations are encouraged to think of creative innovative approaches. Perhaps you have an idea that other funding sources might be reluctant to support. Your project idea can be bold and even experimental. Ask yourself: “Does my project idea have the potential to make a difference?” 


Getting Started: If your organization shares our view that constructive change is possible, then join in this effort and consider applying for one of our Idea-Grants. To get started with the application process just complete our web-accessible one-page form:



SOUTH Docx … click to download

SOUTH PDF … click to download


To learn more about the GAIA grants organization, the organizations receiving grant awards, and the purposes of their funded projects – we invite you to review this website information:

Organization History: insights and developments.

Recent Funded Projects: a listing of grantees, summary descriptions of their projects, to which of these primary purpose categories they were assigned:

  1. International Public Policy;
  2. Reproductive Health/Family Planning (RH/FP) Education;
  3. Teen Media RH/FP Education;
  4. Women’s RH/FP Education;
  5. Cultural Challenge/ Women’s Birth Choice Autonomy;
  6. RH/FP Medical Education.

Our Team Members: the people who direct and administer the GAIA Grants Program.

Financial Accountability: FY 2021 corporate funds distribution.


Final Commentary: We should be clear that no one organization – even one with resources to fund massive intervention – can entirely resolve the complex societal issues related to patterns of human reproduction. However, it is vital to our collective future that we start to recognize and better understand the sustainability implications of human population: in the North, the extremely high and problematic per capita carbon output; and, in the South, the extremely high growth of population and the problematic future cumulative carbon output.