|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on Launch of State of the World Population 2011 Report
Five days before the world’s population would top the 7-billion mark, The State of the World Population 2011 was launched today at United Nations Headquarters, with two of its authors calling for planning and investment in development strategies that were sustainable and which would provide opportunities for all in a world that was rapidly becoming more complex, mobile and urban.
The report, entitled “People and Possibilities in a World of 7 Billion”, is the flagship publication of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It comes nearly 20 years after the landmark 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, and provides a snapshot of a world where, on average, people are now living 20 years longer; more children are living into adulthood; and societies are becoming more interdependent, even as they “grey” and migrate to cities .
Highlighting the “collage of diverse human experiences, achievements and contradictions”, that had accompanied the growth in the world’s population, Richard Kollodge, a senior editor at UNPFA, told journalists that: “With these diverse challenges and trends in mind, we must ask ourselves which actions we can take today that will chart a path towards environmentally sustainable development in the future.”
He said that there were now some 1.8 billion young people around the world — the largest youth cohort in history — while nearly 900 million people were over the age of 60, with the number expected to grow. At the same time, the gaps between rich and poor were growing. With such demographic realities in mind, he said the education and empowerment of girls surrounding their reproductive decisions was crucial, as was making boys and men a part of the shift in thinking. “A future that is sustainable is one that will be built on equal rights and opportunities,” he said
Barbara Crossette, one of the lead authors of the report, said she had filtered the trends in world population growth through the stories of people in nine countries. A former journalist for The New York Times, she had visited China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, India, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
She met with people to lay out the challenges they faced in their daily lives as the world’s population swelled. While lauding the Cairo conference as a success that had helped change people’s thinking, she said the funding for family planning remained flat and women still faced everyday obstacles to access family planning measures. For example, many women in a slum near Mumbai could not visit a nearby family planning centre because they would be beaten by their husbands upon returning home.
“Nearly 20 years after the Cairo conference, women in villages, towns, and urban areas still can’t get access to the family planning they need to control their lives”, she said. The report called for additional investments in the health and education of youth, which would yield enormous returns in economic growth and development for generations.
In response to questions about employment training, Ms. Crosette said there were many fresh ideas being developed around the world for providing employment and training for the upcoming youth bulge. The report noted that 1.8 billion of the planet’s 7 billion people would be between the ages of 10 and 24. China, for example, viewed its aging population as a growth industry, she said.
Both speakers talked about the crucial role that community groups played in changing attitudes and actions. In response to a question about how men could become involved in bringing down barriers for women, the panellists noted the work being done in Mozambique, where community workshops were successfully teaching boys and girls about family planning and HIV prevention.
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