7 Billion and Growing
On October 31st, the UN announced that a Filipino girl named Danica was one of a number of children designated the world’s seven billionth person.
Asia is the most-populated of Earth’s continents, with its over 4 billion inhabitants accounting for over 60% of the world population. The world’s two most-populated countries alone, China and India, constitute about 37 percent of the world’s population. Africa is the second-most-populated continent, with around 1 billion people, or 15% of the world’s population. Europe’s 733 million people make up 11% of the world’s population, while the Latin American and Caribbean regions are home to 589 million (9%). Northern America has a population of around 352 million (5%), and Oceania, the least-populated region, has about 35 million inhabitants (0.5%).
The world’s population has doubled in the last 50 years due, in large part, to improved sanitation, medical care and agricultural practices. The impacts of such growth have economic, social, environmental and cultural impacts.
Among the 7 billion people in the world, 1.8 billion are aged between 10 and 24, and 90% of those live in the developing world. In this context, plenty of challenges are to be faced, such as climate change and sustainable development, the increasing gap between rich and poor, and the share of resources. On 24th October 2011, the United Nations Day was celebrated through different activities organised in the United Nations offices and missions worldwide. At the same time, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) released its Global Population Report, stressing that with a population reaching 7 billions, we must invest more on Youth.
“When young people can claim their rights to health, education and decent working conditions, they become a powerful force for economic development and positive change. This opportunity for a demographic dividend is a fleeting moment that must be claimed quickly or lost”, emphasised the UN Population Fund. The Report also focused on a vicious cycle of extreme poverty and food insecurity leading to high death rates, that in turn will encourage high birth rates. The only solution is to massively invest in Youth education and health in order to break the cycle, that will allow parents to be confident that their children will survive, and therefore have smaller families. The Report finally showed that Governments have an important role to play. “Governments that are serious about eradicating poverty should also be serious about providing the services, supplies and information that women need to exercise their reproductive rights,” stressed Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the UNFPA.
The European Youth Forum welcomes the initiative taken by the United Nations to release the Global Population Report, showing that the World is facing Global Challenges that can only be fought by investing in youth, education, and health.