The world population reaches 8 billion people

The world population reached 8 billion people on Tuesday, a figure that the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, describes as a “historic milestone for the development of humanity”, despite the fact that the annual growth rate is the slowest since the 50s and that inequalities continue increasing.

The UN World Population Prospects report places India as the most populous country by 2030 ahead of China and indicates that the world population could reach 8.5 billion by 2030, a figure that could rise to 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2080.

“This year a milestone is reached. (…) This is an occasion to celebrate diversity and recognize our common humanity while we marvel at the advances in health, which have drastically reduced maternal and infant mortality rates, “said Guterres.

However, he stated that it is a reminder of “the shared responsibility of caring for the planet” and the need to reflect on “the commitments that have not been met.” In this sense, he recalled the importance of dealing with crises such as the coronavirus, the climate crisis or armed conflicts: “the world is in danger”.

“We still live in a world with gender inequality, where women’s rights are violated and basic services are denied. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth remain the leading cause of death for women between the ages of 15 and 19,” she lamented.

For this reason, he defended that although the figure is a “numerical milestone” it is important to “focus on people” and stressed that policies focused on reducing the birth rate “will not have a great impact on population growth worldwide.”

In addition, he urged “reduce the enormous gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing” given that “we are heading for a world full of tensions and mistrust, of crises and conflicts”. “The facts speak for themselves. A series of billionaires control as much wealth as the poorest half of the world. The richest one percent of the world pockets a fifth of the world’s income and the inhabitants of the richest countries have a life expectancy of up to 30 years more than the poor”, he warned.

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In this regard, he emphasized the fact that “as the world has become richer and prosperous in recent decades, the differences have also increased” and noted that these are “long-term trends” that include the “accelerating climate crisis and the disparity in the recovery from the pandemic.”

“As long as emissions and temperatures continue to rise, we are headed straight for climate catastrophe. Floods, storms and droughts are devastating countries that have barely contributed to global warming. The war in Ukraine adds to the current crises, (…) that affect developing economies to a greater extent, ”she pointed out.

The UN warns that population growth is “both a cause and a consequence of slow progress in development” and points out that there has been an increase in the population over 65 years of age despite the fact that more and more countries are registering a decrease in their populations.

Currently, two-thirds of the world’s population lives in a country where the birth rate is less than 2.1 births per woman, an average that could imply zero growth in the long term. The population of 61 countries or regions is projected to decline by at least one percent between 2022 and 2050, due to low birth rates and, in some cases, high emigration rates.

More than half of the projected global population increase to 2050 will be concentrated in eight countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, and Tanzania. However, it is the countries of sub-Saharan Africa that are expected to contribute more than half of the global population growth projected for 2050.

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Situation in poor countries

Countries with a higher birth rate tend to be those with the lowest per capita income, as the document of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (DESA) points out, which highlights that the increase in the population has been concentrated in the poorest countries, of which the majority are located in sub-Saharan Africa.

Although population growth magnifies the environmental impact of economic development, rising per capita income is the main driver of unsustainable production and consumption patterns. indicates the text, which points out that it is the countries with the highest incomes that emit the most greenhouse gases, and not those with the highest population index.

“The relationship between population growth and sustainable development is complex and multidimensional says Liu Zhenmin, UN Undersecretary General for Economic and Social Affairs. “Rapid population growth makes it more difficult to eradicate poverty, fight hunger and malnutrition, as well as expand the coverage of health and education systems,” he says.

On the other hand, he insists, the scope of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to health, education and gender equality, “It will make it possible to reduce birth rates and reverse the growth of the world population.”

However, in most sub-Saharan African countries, as well as in some parts of Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the proportion of the population of working age (between 25 and 64 years) has increased due to recent declines in birth rates.

This, according to the UN report, offers an opportunity “to achieve accelerated per capita economic growth”while countries with aging populations must take steps to “adapt public programs to the growing number of older people, including establishing universal health care and long-term care systems and improving the sustainability of health care systems welfare and pensions.

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Life expectancy reached 72.8 years in 2019, an improvement of almost nine years since 1990. Future reductions in mortality are projected to translate into an average global longevity of about 77.2 years on average by 2050.

However, the UN asks not to lose sight of the great inequalities between countries and regions of the world: in 2021, the life expectancy of the least developed countries was seven years less than the world average.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected these indicators. In 2021, global life expectancy fell to 71 years on average. In turn, Covid-19 has reduced the birth rate and human mobility, as well as international migration.

Guterres, for his part, urged the international community to work together to achieve equality and solidarity to guarantee that the planet meets the needs of future generations” and called for “protecting Human Rights and the ability of all individuals to make informed decisions about the decision to have children”.

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