Ha Noi, 27 October 2011 – In four days, the world population is projected to reach 7 billion. How we respond now will determine whether we have a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future or one that is marked by inequalities, environmental decline and economic setbacks, according to The State of World Population 2011 report, published today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.
“With planning and the right investments in people now—to empower them to make choices that are not only good for themselves, but also for our global commons—our world of 7 billion can have thriving sustainable cities, productive labour forces that fuel economies, and youth populations that contribute to the well-being of their societies,” says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin in the foreword of the report, entitled People and Possibilities in a World of 7 Billion.
Our record population size can be viewed in many ways as a success for humanity because it means that people are living longer and more of our children are surviving worldwide, the report shows. But not everyone has benefited from this achievement or the higher quality of life that this implies. Great disparities exist among and within countries. Disparities in rights and opportunities also exist between men and women, girls and boys. Charting a path now to development that promotes equality, rather than exacerbates or reinforces inequalities, is more important than ever.
The 7 billion milestone is a challenge. The current pace of global population growth is adding about 78 million more people every year, increasing the demand for natural resources and putting increased pressure on our planet. Nearly all that growth – 97 percent – is occurring in less developed countries. Gaps between rich and poor are growing. And more people than ever are vulnerable to food insecurity, water shortages and weather related disasters. Meanwhile, many rich and middle-income countries are concerned about low fertility, declining population and ageing.
In Viet Nam, the population growth rate has decreased significantly from 1.7 percent between 1989 and 1999 to 1.2 percent between 1999 and 2009. Although Viet Nam’s fertility rate has already fallen below the replacement level, the population will still increase by an estimated 9 million people over the next ten years due to population momentum created from past decades of high fertility. At the same time, as a result of sharp reductions in fertility and mortality and increased life expectancy, the size of the elderly population is also increasing. The profile of poverty is also changing. “While poverty rates have consistently fallen below 14 percent, , poverty reduction among certain vulnerable groups, such as ethnic minorities, including women and girls, has been much slower. To reduce inequities and improve living standards today – as well as for generations to follow, requires immediate, concerted and evidence-based engagement of policy makers, planners and managers at national, provincial and community levels ,” said Bruce Campbell, UNFPA Representative in Viet Nam.
The 7 billion milestone is also an opportunity. We have an opportunity and responsibility to invest in the world’s 1.8 billion adolescents and youth aged 10 to 24. They constitute more than a quarter of the world's population and almost 90 percent live in developing countries. Every young person has a right to education, including sexuality education, and access to comprehensive health services. With the right policies, investments and social support, young people can enjoy healthier lives free of poverty and enhance prospects for peace and stability.
Data from the 2009 Census shows that Viet Nam has entered a period known as the "demographic bonus", recording the highest proportional level of young people who are entering the workforce in Viet Nam’s history. Today, young people between 10 to 24 years represent almost a third of the total population. “While this demographic window is open, Viet Nam can benefit from this tremendous resource by ensuring that every young person has access to quality social services, including health, education and training, so that they are well prepared to make a significant contribution to Viet Nam's continued socio-economic growth and development,” added Mr. Campbell.
The 7 billion milestone is a call for action. Reducing inequities and improving living standards for people alive today – as well as for generations to follow – will require new ways of thinking and unparalleled global cooperation. The moment to act is now.
In a world of 7 billion people, we are all in this together and are counting on each other. As we approach a world population of 7 billion, each one of us is an equal part of this major milestone. Our small individual actions, multiplied across the world, can lead to change that is exponential.
To mark this important milestone, a gala night on “The World at 7 Billion – Counting on Each Other” will be held in Ha Noi this evening by the Ministry of Health and the United Nations in Viet Nam. Globally, UNFPA has been working with “Playing for Change”, a multimedia movement to write a song titled “United” to serve as an anthem for the historic moment when our planet reaches 7 billion people.
- Please click here to watch the “United” song by Vietnamese singers
- Please click here to read the statement by Mr. Bruce Campbell, UNFPA Representative at The State of World Population 2011 Media Session
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