Celebrating seven decades of work on population issues

The study of global population trends, and the challenges they bring, has been one of the tasks that UN DESA has been focusing on almost since its inception. As we mark seven decades of economic and social development, we turn our focus towards the department’s demographic work.

The Second World War brought some of the greatest loss of life in human history. It is estimated that some 3 per cent of the world’s population died as a result of the war.

The end of the war brought about the initiative to form an international organization whose goal would be to never allow such destruction and loss of life to happen again. The United Nations was created, initially joining together some 45 countries of the world.

The world’s population entered a period of unprecedented growth. From about 2.5 billion in 1950, global population has reached over seven billion today. This rate of population growth created some significant new challenges, from urbanization, transportation, food security, to aging population and migration.

The United Nations has been actively engaged in population issues since its early years. The first World Population Conference took place in 1954 in Rome, and it launched the process of international cooperation between countries on demographic issues, promoting the creation of regional training centers for demographic analysts. Several conferences followed, in Belgrade in 1965, Bucharest in 1974, Mexico in 1984 and in Cairo in 1994.

Today, UN DESA provides analytical expertise on demographic issues, producing expert reports on population subjects such as urbanization, migration, fertility and mortality, etc. Working together with the UN, Member States are preparing for great demographic transformations ahead, to ensure that no one is left behind.

For more information:

UN DESA’s Population Division

Celebrating 70 years of development