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Friday, 28 October 2011

31 October sees world population grow to 7 billion

On 31 October, the 7 billionth citizen in the world will see the light of the day. At the launch of the annual UNFPA report on the state of the world population in Brussels, panelists said that the continued increase of the world population poses challenges, but also opportunities.

“At the launch of our world population report in 1999, we projected the 7th billion to be reached at the end of 2012. We now see that population growth has been faster than we thought,” said UNFPA Deputy Director Ivan Hermans. And Professor Patrick Deboosere from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel highlighted that the number of years between the moment where one billion is reached and the moment where the next billion is reached have shrunk. “The third billion human beings was reached 32 years after the second, but for the fourth it took only 15 more years, for the fifth 13 years and for the sixth and seventh 12 years,” he said. However, statistics project that the periods will become longer again, with a total of 10.1 billion world citizens by 2100. If fertility rates were to remain the same, statistics project more than 15 billion people by 2100.

“We have to work on child mortality and towards a point where every child is wanted,” said Hermans. UNFPA works towards improving sexual health and reproductive health, and puts a particular emphasis on the empowerment of women. “Often, women do not have the control over how many children they want to have,” Hermans deplored.

The European Commission will continue to focus on the promotion of equality and equity, noted Kristian Schmidt from DG DEVCO of the Commission. “High fertility rates still hinder development today,” he said, “our task is to break this link.”

Overall, panelists agreed that the figure of 7 billion does not give reason to fear. “If we wanted to place people shoulder to shoulder, 7 billion world citizens would only cover the area of greater Los Angeles,” said Ivan Hermans before concluding: “But we should look at the development of each and every human, not only at the figures. Let us count on each other!”

Source: CTA