United Nations Says World Hits 7 Billion Population; Urges Action
Expected to grow to 9 billion by the middle of this century, or sooner - see population charts below news report
Oct. 31, 2011 - Top United Nations officials today marked the global population reaching 7 billion with a call to action
to world leaders to meet the challenges that a growing population poses, from ensuring adequate food and clean water to guaranteeing equal
access to security and justice.
“Today, we welcome baby 7 billion. In doing so we must recognize our moral and pragmatic obligation to do the right thing
for him, or for her,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a
press event at UN Headquarters to mark the milestone.
Mr. Ban noted that the world’s population reached 6 billion in 1998, only 13 years ago, and it is expected to grow to 9
billion by the middle of this century, or even a few years earlier – by 2043.
What kind of world has baby 7 billion been born into? What kind of world do we want for our children in the future?
“But today – this Day of 7 Billion – is not about one newborn, or even one generation,” he stated. “This is a day about
our entire human family.”
The world today is one of “terrible contradictions,” said Mr. Ban, noting that there is plenty of food but 1 billion
people go hungry; lavish lifestyles for a few, but poverty for too many others; huge advances in medicine while mothers die everyday in
childbirth; and billions spent on weapons to kill people instead of keeping them safe.
“What kind of world has baby 7 billion been born into? What kind of world do we want for our children in the future?” he
“I am one of 7 billion. You are also one of 7 billion. Together, we can be 7 billion strong – by working in solidarity
for a better world for all,” the Secretary-General said.
op-ed published in The International Herald Tribune, Mr. Ban said that as the
world population passes 7 billion, “alarm bells are ringing.”
He noted that the meeting later this week in France of the Group of 20 leading and emerging economies (G-20) is taking
place against the backdrop of growing economic uncertainty and mounting inequality.
"...plenty of food but 1 billion people go hungry; lavish lifestyles for a few, but poverty for too many
others; huge advances in medicine while mothers die everyday in childbirth; and billions spent on weapons to kill people instead of
keeping them safe." Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
“In Cannes, leaders should agree to a concrete action plan that advances the well-being of all nations and people, not
just the wealthiest and most powerful,” he stated.
The President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, said today’s milestone is a reminder of how the
world’s poorest – the so-called ‘bottom billion’ – are rendered vulnerable with little or no access to basic needs.
“Seven billion people face, almost on a daily basis – with varying degrees of severity – the consequences of
environmental challenges, increasing poverty, inequity, wars and economic instability,” he told the event.
“But with each of these challenges comes an opportunity – 7 billion opportunities in fact,” he added, noting that these
opportunities can be harnessed to reach global anti-poverty targets, to invest in youth and women, and to re-think the approach to sustainable
The Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
underscored some of the challenges in an expanding global community, including in promoting the rights and health of 7 billion women, men and
“We must ensure that, in areas of the world where population is growing fast, we raise the status of women and young
girls to be able to access education and make choices for themselves,” Babatunde Osotimehin said at the gathering.
“We also owe it to the 250 million women worldwide who require family planning and are not getting it to make it
available,” he said, adding it is also necessary to ensure safe pregnancy and delivery for every woman that wants to give birth.
At the same time, he highlighted the need to give ageing populations in many parts of the world a life of dignity, and to
tackle the rapid urbanization and migration which many countries have to face.
The UN human rights chief also marked the occasion, stating that the 7 billionth child is, by virtue of her or his birth,
a permanent holder of rights, with an “irrevocable” claim to freedom.
“But she or he will also be born into a world where some people, given the chance, will trample on those rights and
freedoms in the name of state security, or economic policy, or group chauvinism,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a
“If she was born a girl, she will have fewer choices. If born in the developing world, she or he will have fewer
opportunities. If born a descendant of Africans in a non-African country, or as an indigenous person, member of a religious minority, or as a
Roma, she or he is likely to face discrimination and marginalization, with a childhood rife with vulnerability, and a future adult life hedged
in by exclusion.
“But he or she has also been born at a time of great hope,” Ms. Pillay added, noting that the demonstrations and
mobilizations of civil society seen in 2011 in a sense “provide a birthday celebration for the 7 billionth person on this planet, and also
serve as a warning to those who might be inclined to deprive this child, like many others, of his or her birthrights.”
Population by Age and Sex
do not incorporate the 2010 Census results released in December 2010. U.S. data are based on official estimates and projections. All
population estimates and projections are for the resident population. Population estimates for 2000-2009 are based on Census 2000. Population
data in the IDB for 2010-2050 are based on the 2009 National Projections – Low Series. These data are used rather than the 2008 series because
the projected 2010 total population in the 2009 Low Series is closer to the 2010 Census result for the total U.S. population. The U.S.
population components shown in the IDB for 2000-2050 may not match the official population components for the United States, due to
differences in how they are displayed (calendar year versus midyear estimates). Revised official population estimates are released each year (http://www.census.gov/popest/).
Therefore, the U.S. population estimates (official compared with IDB) may not match due to differences in the timing of their release.
The world population increased from 3 billion in 1959 to 6 billion by 1999, a
doubling that occurred over 40 years. The Census Bureau's latest projections imply that population growth will continue into the 21st century,
although more slowly. The world population is projected to grow from 6 billion in 1999 to 9 billion by 2044, an increase of 50 percent that is
expected to require 45 years. (Source:
U.S. Census Bureau)
World Population Growth Rates: 1950-2050
The world population growth rate rose from about 1.5 percent per year from 1950-51 to a peak of
over 2 percent in the early 1960s due to reductions in mortality. Growth rates thereafter started to decline due to rising age at marriage as
well as increasing availability and use of effective contraceptive methods. Note that changes in population growth have not always been
steady. A dip in the growth rate from1959-1960, for instance, was due to the Great Leap Forward in China. During that time, both natural
disasters and decreased agricultural output in the wake of massive social reorganization caused China's death rate to rise sharply and its
fertility rate to fall by almost half. (Source:
U.S. Census Bureau)
Annual World Population Change: 1950-2050
In addition to growth rates, another way to look at population growth is to consider annual
changes in the total population. The annual increase in world population peaked at about 87 million in the late 1980s. The peak occurred then,
even though annual growth rates were past their peak in the late 1960s, because the world population was higher in the 1980s than in the
U.S. Census Bureau)
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