John Guillebaud CV

John Guillebaud

John Guillebaud MA MB B Chir FRCSE FRCOG Hon FCP(SA) (pronounced 'Gil-boe'), is Emeritus Professor of Family Planning and Reproductive Health, University College London (UCL). He spent his early life in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. While a 2nd year medical student at St John's Cambridge, a lecture on the environmental risks of unremitting population growth by the biologist Colin Bertram triggered his specialisation in contraception, within sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). This seemed the obvious career path for a doctor concerned for the future of all life on the planet, as later expanded in his 'BMJ Confidential' profile at

In order to assist either gender to control their fertility, he later took higher degrees in both surgery and gynaecology and performed over time about 4000 vasectomies and a similar number of contraceptive procedures for women, in parallel with his dynamic educational, training and research activities. He is author/co-author of c 300 publications on these subjects, including nine books available in 10 languages. For over 30 years his two textbooks in the field have been 'best-sellers'. His Personal Chair at UCL in Family Planning and Reproductive Health in 1993 was the first in the world awarded to a clinical gynaecologist.

In his Eco-Time Capsule project of 1994, environment time capsules (Eco-TCs) were buried in the Botanic Gardens of Kew, Ness, South Africa, Seychelles, Sydney NSW and Mexico. The project was based on the saying"We have not inherited the earth from our grandparents, we have borrowed it from our grandchildren". He had concluded that the latter will be furious, justifiably, if by then we have wrecked their loan to us. Therefore the Eco-TCs, buried on or about World Environment Day in June 1994, will be disinterred in June 2044 - ie after exactly 50 years and by 'our grandchildren. They contain relevant 20th century artefacts labelled BAD [eg some fossil fuel and a CFC aerosol] or GOOD [his own cycle pump and - stressing their similar relevance environmentally - a pack of contraceptive pills], along with entries by hundreds of schoolchildren in a nation-wide competition for the best letters, poems and pictures. Along with others contributed by adults, these apologised for "disruptive climate change", well before this was a common concern, as well as "the extinction of numberless species" through habitat destruction, the dire impacts anticipated by 2044 through ever increasing numbers of planet-trashing humans. However the project was not solely and demonstrably an Apology, those involved did not and do not just ring their hands. The contained Promise was to work towards "changing hearts, minds and policies before it's too late" - with the explicit ultimate objective to achieve long-term sustainability. So that, against the odds, 'sorry' in 2044 would not need to be said! There is more at , including a specially written song and video by Chris Guillebaud.

Professor Guillebaud's vision was and is that the population factor P in the Ehrlich-Holdren equation for environmental impact should be wisely addressed, in parallel with the other two factors (Consumption and Technology), in affluent as much as in low-resource settings. Population-related endeavours must always and everywhere be delivered compassionately: through education via schools and media and by fully voluntary, rights-based family planning services, made accessible by removing many barriers. These barriers may be tangible (absence of the best methods, those that are long-acting and provide "opt-in reproduction"), or intangible (eg cultural/religious pronatalism). His goal is that, by removing all such barriers, children everywhere should arrive by choice not by chance.

20 April 2024.

The above CV was supplemented in 2014 as a light-hearted Profile in the British Medical Journal. See here.