WINDHOEK, Namibia, Oct 28 (Bernama) -- The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) officially announced the launch of the State of World Population 2011 report on Wednesday as the world population is set to reach a record seven billion on 31 October 2011, says Namibian news agency NAMPA quoting the United Nations Population Division.
The report sheds light on the real life challenges in store for the world as the global population hits seven billion - a billion more than just 13 years ago and six billion more than the early 1800s.
The State of World Population 2011 report makes the case that with planning and the right investments in people now - to empower women, men and young people to make choices that are not only good for themselves, but for the global commons - the world can thrive.
The announcement was made by UNFPA Country Representative Fabian Byomuhangi at the launch of the report here.
The report mainly focuses on nine countries, which are China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, India, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
According to the UNFPA, it entails the personal stories of individuals who live in the nine countries describing the obstacles they confront, and overcome, in trying to build better lives for themselves and ultimately, their nations.
There is however also much to celebrate in world population trends over the last 60 years, the fund says, especially the average life expectancy which has leapt from about 48 years in the early 1950's to about 68 in the first decade of the new century.
The UNFPA says the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs foresees a global population 9.3 billion people in 2050. Asia will remain the most populous major area in the world in the 21st century, but Africa will gain ground as its population more than triples, increasing from one billion in 2011 to 3.6 billion in 2100.
In 2011, 15 per cent of the world population lives in Africa, but the African population is growing by about 2.3 per cent a year, a rate double that of Asia, according to the population division.
According to the UNFPA, the global milestone of a world population of seven billion will be marked by achievements, setbacks and paradoxes.
Quoting an opinion piece by UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin, Byomuhangi said the global milestone of a world population of seven billion presents a challenge, an opportunity, and a call to action.
"Whether we can live together on a healthy planet will depend on the choices that we make now," he said.
According to a median project of the UN Population Division, he said, the world population will reach eight billion by 2025, nine billion by 2043, and 10 billion by 2083.
But these projections are contingent on access to family planning and the rights of women, men and young people to make their own choices about childbearing, he explained.
Currently, he said about 78 million people are added to the global population each year, resulting in increasing demand for natural resources and putting increased pressure on the planet.
While poverty, inequality and increased stress on resources represent major challenges, the world is more interconnected than ever before, creating enormous possibilities.
"We now have new and unprecedented capacity to share information and ideas, and engage communities across the globe to solve problems that affect us," he noted.
The UNFPA Country Representative said that reducing inequities and improving living standards for people alive today and for generations to follow will require new ways of thinking and unprecedented global cooperation. The moment to act is now, he said.
Osotimehin placed special emphasis in the article on the 600 million adolescent girls whose decisions can change the world.
"If every girl today can stay in school, have the number of children she desires, and live free of gender-based violence and discrimination, we would see an end to child marriage, improved health for children and families, and women taking their rightful place in society," he wrote.
There are still an estimated 215 million women in less developed countries who want to avoid or delay pregnancy, but lack access to modern contraception.
Every day, he wrote, 1,000 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
This can be prevented if women and couples are provided with adequate reproductive health information and services. In providing such information and services, poverty can also be reduced, according to Osotimehin.