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Opinion Pieces Address World Population Of 7 Billion

Though demographers do not know exactly when the world’s population will hit seven billion, the U.N. symbolically marked the day on Monday with celebrations and warnings about safety, health and sustainability. The following is a summary of several opinion pieces published in recognition of the day.

  • New York Times: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes that “alarm bells are ringing” as the world population reaches seven billion because “the biggest challenge facing governments is not a deficit of resources; it is a deficit of trust. People are losing faith in leaders and public institutions to do the right thing.” Making recommendations on issues surrounding the poor, women and children, and natural resources, Ban calls on leaders at the G20 summit in Cannes, France, next week to “agree to a concrete action plan that advances the well-being of all nations and people, not just the wealthiest and most powerful” (10/31).
  • The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog”: UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin writes that the day marks “an occasion to take stock of how far humanity has come in promoting the right to the highest attainable standard of health.” He continues, “The millennium development goals cannot be achieved without ensuring human rights and universal access to sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention, treatment, care and support,” and notes, “These are joint goals that will contribute to — and cannot be achieved without — gender equality and empowerment of women.” Osotimehin concludes that “as our numbers grow in the years ahead, it is critical that we take actions to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and that every young person is free of HIV and AIDS” (10/31).
  • The State Department’s “DipNote” blog: Noting that the UNFPA “2011 State of World Population report provides an excellent point of reference for considering th[e] complex issues” surrounding the growth of the world’s population to seven billion, Elizabeth Schlachter, senior population policy adviser in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, writes that the U.S. government “work[s] in partnership with UNFPA because investing in women and girls is essential to solving the world’s most challenging problems.” She concludes, “It is vitally important that we work together to expand awareness that universal access to reproductive health care and family planning are not only powerful means to dramatically reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality but are central to achieving all the global development goals” (10/31).
  • CNN: “One of the best ways to ensure that the seven billionth child born will live in a safe, healthy and sustainable world is to focus on what women want and need,” Ted Turner, founder and chair of the United Nations Foundation, writes. “There is no better value for the money than international family planning, which provides a higher return on investment than almost any other type of development assistance,” but “world leaders have not consistently made funding for these programs a priority,” he continues. Turner concludes, “If the United States wants to maintain its global leadership role, we must be thinking and making smart investments that will help us address both current and future responsibilities. The best way to do this is to listen to women and fund international family planning” (10/31).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.