Global Agenda Council on Population Growth 2012-2013
The world population took more than 50,000 years to reach 1 billion, yet it surpassed 7 billion in 2011. Although the speed of population growth peaked in the late 1960s and has been declining since, the accumulating numbers indicate each additional billion has been added more rapidly than at any time in history; the last two took 12 and 13 years, respectively. Even if global fertility and population growth rates continue to decline, the United Nations (UN) projects world population could reach 9.3 billion by 2050 and 10+ billion by the end of the century. If fertility rates climb higher than projected, the population could surpass 10 billion by 2050 and be several billion higher by 2100. Therefore, the future size of the world population hinges on the path that fertility takes in the future.
Rapid population growth can magnify every problem that is scaled by population numbers, and justifies a strong international focus on population growth and its consequences. Small differences in future average fertility can have dramatic effects on population numbers over time.
Governments can influence future population growth through policies that increase human well-being and ensure that people can exercise their reproductive rights, thus expanding individual choices and opportunities. Government interventions to reduce child mortality and to increase levels of education, both worthwhile goals in themselves, can also influence parental decisions on family size. Moreover, implementing poverty reduction strategies that increase income-earning opportunities, especially for poor women, can empower poor people to exercise their rights and improve the life chances of their children.
- By 2050, the UN projects 1.0-3.5 billion additional people on the planet. Nearly all of that growth will take place in the socially, politically, economically and ecologically fragile countries in the world, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South Asia.
- In 1950, statistically the average woman in the world had 5.0 children during her childbearing years; today that figure is 2.5 children.
- 200+ million women in the developing world have no access to modern contraception. This is the number of women who are in sexual relationships and say they want to prevent or delay pregnancy, but are not using any means of modern contraception.
“When you discuss population issues, it depends on what part of the world you come from as to whether it is positive or negative. For us as Africans, there has always been an element in the discussion that a large population is a source of labour. This is an underlying philosophy behind large families in agrarian communities.”
Nkosana Moyo, Founder and Executive Chair, Mandela Institute for Development Studies, South Africa
“Better access to good education and health services, especially by young mothers, can also help to mitigate population growth.”
Emmanuel Jimenez, Director, Public Sector Evaluations at the Independent Evaluation Group, World Bank, Washington DC, USA
“This is not about religion. You can look at predominantly Muslim countries like Bangladesh, which have done tremendously well with managing the fertility rate among their women. This is about access to services and the empowerment and role of women, not just in society but also in their households.”
Muhammad Ali Pate, Hon. Minister of State for Health of Nigeria
Seven Billion and Growing: A 21st Century Perspective on Population
The missing link in sustainable development: A call to integrate population in the water, food, energy nexus
Delivering Results: 2011 Annual Report in a World of 7 Billion
For a full list of meetings see: http://www.un.org/esa/population/meetings.htm
ICPD 2013 International Conference on Population and Development
27-28 June 2013
27th International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) International Population Conference
26-31 August 2013
Busan, Republic of Korea
On 11 and 12 January 2012, the World Economic Forum and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) convened a group of leading experts and practitioners representing the private sector, international organizations, civil society and academia to explore the linkages between water, energy, food security and population. The group called for effectively integrating population and demographics in international policies for sustainable development. The insights from this event were integrated into the work of the World Economic Forum for Rio+20.
Since 2010, the Council has been consulting and working with the Executive Director of UNFPA and certain key governments (Nigeria, Ethiopia) on the best way to tackle the sensitive issue of population growth.
Going forward the Council will take a country-specific approach to the issues related to population growth, based on the understanding that different countries have different problems, and therefore require tailored solutions. The Council recognizes that the causes of high national fertility rates are many, and often associated with cultural and religious considerations, women’s empowerment and education. To address these issues, the Council will focus on countries with an elevated risk of high population growth.
After raising awareness of this issue, the Council will showcase best practices and implementations that countries can apply to reduce fertility rates. The Council will continue supporting the right of women and girls to decide freely as individuals whether, when and how many children they have, by following up on the commitments made during this summit by political leaders. It will do so by highlighting this fact in World Economic Forum events and elsewhere, and by collaborating with the government officials.
Council Manager: Patrick McGee, Knowledge Manager, Global Agenda Councils, email@example.com
Forum Lead: Robert Greenhill, Managing Director and Chief Business Officer, Head, World Economic Forum, firstname.lastname@example.org