With the world population projected to reach seven billion in five days, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said in a new report on Wednesday that the milestone is a global call to action towards a future to a path to development that is environmentally sustainable and one where opportunities exist for both men and women.
“With these diverse challenges and trends in mind, we must ask ourselves which actions we can take today that will chart a path toward environmentally sustainable development in the future,” Richard Kollodge, author of “The State of the World Population 2011” report, at a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York.
The report, also being launched in more than 100 other cities worldwide, looks at population trends ranging from aging to rapidly rising numbers of young people, high population growth rates to shrinking populations, among many.
There are 1.8 billion young people around the world — the largest youth cohort in history and nearly 900 million people are above the age of 60 with the number expected to grow, Kollodge said.
“First we need to educate and empower girls and women to fully participate in society and to be able to make informed reproductive decisions, and whatever we do, men and boys must be part of the solution,” Kollodge said. “A future that is sustainable is one that will be built on equal rights and opportunities.”
Kollodge also said investment in health and education of youth of the world, which will yield “enormous returns and economic growth and development for generations to come.”
“But much more is needed,” he warned. “Consider that, there are still 215 million women of child bearing age in developing countries who would use family planning if only they had access to it.”
The report said charting a path now to development that promotes quality, rather than exacerbates or reinforces inequality is more critical than ever.
“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 labor forces that fuel economies, and youth populations that contribute to the well-being of their societies,” said UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin in the forward of the report.