Today, July 11, 2011, is World Population Day, an annual event established to raise awareness of global population issues. The day was set by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989. It was inspired by the public interest in Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987, when the world’s population was estimated to have reached five billion people. Today it is estimated that the world’s population is now at 7 billion and growing, a shocking figure when looking at the estimated 207 years it took to reach a world population of 1 billion in 1804. Therefore this year World Population Day is focusing attention on the effects that a growing world population has on our environment and natural resources, as well as the often overlooked health of women and children across the globe. The theme of World Population Day 2011, “Calling Attention to Urgent Global Issues” is a clear call to governments, organizations, communities and individuals to better understand population issues worldwide and to take action towards change. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated in his 2011 address for World Population Day:
Our rapidly expanding global population unfortunately leads to a multitude of complications and problems related to hunger and malnutrition. Every day, one billion people go hungry and are without access to clean water. Some 15 million children die of hunger and a starvation death occurs every 3.6 seconds A goal of the U.N.’s newly created 7 Billion Actions campaign, is to “break the cycle of poverty and inequality to help slow population growth.”
Later this year, a seven billionth baby will be born into our world of complexity and contradiction. We have enough food for everyone, yet nearly a billion go hungry. We have the means to eradicate many diseases, yet they continue to spread. We have the gift of a rich natural environment, yet it remains subjected to daily assault and exploitation. All people of conscience dream of peace, yet too much of the world is in conflict and steeped in armaments.
Overcoming challenges of this magnitude will demand the best in each of us. Let us use this World Population Day to take determined actions to create a better future for our world’s seven billionth inhabitant and for generations to come.
The other goal of this year’s World Population Day message is that despite declines in fertility rates around the world, 215 million women in developing countries don’t have access to effective family planning methods. In India, the state government launched a ‘Save the Girl Child’ campaign to coincide with World Population Day, and place much needed emphasis on the battle against female infanticide, officials said (Hindustan Times). The campaign will include an exhibition and the launch the website ‘aamchimulgi.com’, as well as start a helpline on the law, which prohibits the use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for ascertaining the sex of the foetus. India is the second most populated country in the world with 1.2 billion inhabitants, behind China, who leads as the most populated country with 1.3 billion. The United States follows with a population of 310.2 million, followed by Indonesia with a population of 242.9 million and Brazil with 201.1 million.
Reaching a world population of 7 billion is both scary and a feat to be praised. It all boils down to the fact that we must find a global solution to enable all states and persons to live together sustainably and healthily. Therefore the future of all of the world’s children is in our hands and we must work on a global scale to ensure access to healthcare for some 215 million women who have little to no access to maternal care. W must increase global knowledge of reproductive health, promote a greater understanding of family planning, end child marriage, increase access to education, and end hunger and poverty via sustainable methods and not aid whenever possible. Only once we address these issues will our growing world population feel less crowded, but free to enjoy the beauty and resources of our world.