CANCELLED! Ultra-Low Fertility: is reproductive sustainability possible in the 21st century?

Sustainability Science Centre and Low Fertility Research Platform present a sustainability symposium on falling fertility rates.

For the first time ever, over half of the world’s population now lives in low-fertility countries where fertility rates are below replacement level. In many countries, ultra-low fertility rates are approaching on average one child per woman with South Korea even having fallen below to 0.98. The causes are complex, a combination of biological, social and psychological factors. Rising childcare and education costs, economic precarity, stress of work life and concerns about climate changes all factor into people’s reproductive decision-making. Some couples end up waiting until their 30s and 40s when chances of being able to reproduce have fallen considerably. An important question is how big a role conscious family planning versus involuntarily low fecundity play in the observed low fertility rates. Many countries have observed declining sperm quality in the general population over recent generations.

Moreover, exposure to industrial chemicals surrounding us in our daily lives has been shown to impact on reproductive health and fertility in the lab and as well as in many wildlife species.

But is this a problem? Aren’t there too many people on the planet anyway, each with a growing carbon footprint? What consequences will falling fertility rates in Europe, America and Asia have on employment, welfare, ageing populations, national economies, migration and more? What about Africa and Latin America? And how much should we be concerned about the impact of industrial chemicals on human fertility and bio-diversity?

Join the University of Copenhagen’s Sustainability Science Centre for a day of insights and discussion on falling fertility rates as we ask: is reproductive sustainability possible in the 21st century?

Chairpersons: Professor Katherine Richardson & Professor Anders Juul


Dr. Ayo Wahlberg, Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen: World-wide declining trends in human fertility - possible causes and growing unease


Dr. Hagai Levine, Hebrew University of Jerusalem: World-wide decline in human sperm count: findings and implications


Coffee break


Dr. Remy Slama, Inserm - CNRS - University Grenoble-Alpes, France: Endocrine disruptors and human health: from science to regulation


Dr. Niels E. Skakkebaek, University of Copenhagen: The fetal testis at risk: testicular dysgenesis syndrome


Comments & Questions

13:00- 13:45


13:45- 14:05

Dr. Rune Jacobsen, University of Southern Denmark: How to distinguish biological from behavioral factors leading to low human fertility rates?


Dr. Anna-Maria Andersson, Rigshospitalet; Chemical exposures of populations in industrialized countries


Presentation of the ideas behind A Transdisciplinary Research Platform for Ultra-Low Fertility and Reproductive Sustainability followed by panel discussion. All speakers and all participants are invited to comment.

15:00- 16:00

Drinks and snacks