Grant Funding Priorities

GAIA’s Idea-Grants are focused on encouraging organizations to develop innovative niche projects to address a population issue which may have a potential impact on the sustainability challenges to our planet posed by the cumulative atmospheric greenhouse gases with its devastating effects on global warming/climate change.

There are a significant number of organizations with expertise and experience dealing with the range of problems related to human population and we invite their participation in our program. GAIA grants are intended to address one of these four broad areas related to reproductive health services: education, media, public policy, and shaping attitudes about family planning.

There are important considerations that should be acknowledged as potential grant applicants formulate specific project proposals. There is the evolving historical time context – from antiquity to the present – and our growing awareness of the ways the human population now impacts our planetary environment. There are the values issues that must be considered with any intervention related to reproductive health choice – the personal, familial, and cultural issues.

The Evolving Impact of Global Human Population on Greenhouse Gas

There is a relationship – one both complicated and stark – between rising human population, increased supportive economic activity, and their combined cumulative impact on planetary levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

From antiquity – beginning 12,000 years ago – it took until 1800 AD for global population to rise to one billion humans. Before the Agricultural Revolution and before the Pre-Industrial Society, death rates and birth rates had been high and roughly in balance, and consequently, global population growth rates were near zero.

To understand the evolving relationship of population and greenhouse gas, the above display is instructive as it shows for the last 350,000 years the global atmospheric CO2 concentrations measured using preserved ice cores. The natural variations shown are from a myriad of sources (volcanic eruptions, wildfires, meteor strikes, etc) and the CO2 base is on average a level of 220 parts per million.

For the last 200 years it is most important to appreciate the dramatic shifts depicted: human populations have rapidly increased from 1 billion to 8 billion, and greenhouse gas emissions have far exceeded the base level 220 ppm.

Economic Development and the Transition to Lower Birth Rates: “Demographic Transition Theory” describes the evolution of societal fertility rates that has accompanied various economic and social developments:

  • Before the Agricultural Revolution the population growth rates were near zero; death rates and birth rates were high and roughly in balance for 10,000 years.
  • As societies began to experience economic development, the death rates dropped as improvements in food supply and sanitation began to increase life expectancies; without a corresponding fall in birth rates – an imbalance occured resulting in large population increase.
  • Modernizing societies in the 19th century began to have declining birth rates due to various “fertility factors” – urbanization, increases in wages, a reduction in subsistence agriculture, an increase in the status and education of women, greater parental investment in the education of children, and other social changes; this declining fertility trend was reinforced in the mid-20th century with broadened access to modern contraceptives.
  • It is important to acknowledge that many societies experienced birth rate decline in the 19th century before modern contraceptives; decline in societal fertility depends on a transition in cultural and personal values – not just availability of contraceptives.

Funding Priorities for GAIA Grants in Spring 2023

GAIA Initiative understands that issues related to population which are most crucial in a particular location may be determined by the economic developmental stage of nations or regions. The Spring 2023 funding cycle’s 16 grants will be allocated: 8 grants awarded for project proposals responsive to Priorities for the Global North region on our website; 8 grants awarded for project proposals responsive to Priorities for the Global South region. These Regional Priorities are set forth in two separate linked web pages shown below.

The Global South region of developing nations are characterized by: 1- generally low per capita income; 2- children’s education not widely available beyond grade four; 3- family planning services not well understood, not accessible, and not embraced as desirable; 4- high birth rates and high proportion of dependent children under age 14 years – at or near 50 percent of the population; 5- national governments having not effectively deployed birth control services; 6- widespread absence of autonomy for women to choose when to have children; and 7- cultural attitudes that encourage large family size/numbers of kids even where poverty is pervasive. There is very low per capita carbon output and very high population growth rates – some nations doubling population in less than 20 years. See linked webpage Global South Grant Priorities.

The Global North region of developed nations are characterized by: 1- significantly higher average per capita income; 2- universal children’s K-12 education; 3- widespread popular understanding and embracing of family planning services; 4- low national birth rate; 5- national governments and private insurers largely pay for birth control services; 6- women having autonomy to choose how many and when to have children; and 7- cultural attitudes that generally favor smaller family size/numbers of kids among couples of all income cohorts. There is extremely high per capita carbon output and very low population growth – most nations with below replacement level birth rates. See linked webpage Global North Grant Priorities.

Consideration of Project Proposals by the Grants Review Committee: Organizations interested in a grant award may consider reviewing both priority sets – Global South and Global North – in order to determine which type of project proposal they are best suited to develop. We encourage thinking in terms of innovative approaches – niche projects that are bold and even experimental. As you formulate your project description, perhaps try an approach with the potential to make a difference that other funding sources might be reluctant to support.

GAIA Idea-Grant Awards: GAIA’s Grant Program has been expanded in 2022 to include a total of 32 grants. GAIA grants – from $5,000 to not greater than $10,000 USD – are awarded to qualified applicants who describe creative and potentially impactful project ideas.

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. 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 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.