U.N. Report Forecasts Global Population Increases Through 2100

The world’s population “is expected to grow from nearly 6.9 billion currently to 9.3 billion by 2050 and 10.1 billion by 2100,” the U.N. said in a report on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports, noting that the U.N. uses the projections “to devise and fund programs for problems ranging from climate change to maternal mortality” (5/3). 

“Growth in Africa remains so high that the population there could more than triple in this century, rising from today’s one billion to 3.6 billion, the report said – a sobering forecast for a continent already struggling to provide food and water for its people,” the New York Times writes. “The new report comes just ahead of a demographic milestone, with the world population expected to pass 7 billion in late October … Demographers called the new projections a reminder that a problem that helped define global politics in the 20th century, the population explosion, is far from solved in the 21st” (Gillis/Dugger, 5/3). The U.N. News Centre notes that the new report “shows that a small variation in fertility could lead to major long-term differences in the size of the global population” (5/3).

U.N. Population Division Director Hania Zlotnik said the projections depend on expected fertility rates, with populations in many nations aging as medical advances allow people to live longer and families opt to have fewer children.

“The world hasn’t collapsed by adding so many people, but most of the people have been added in the poorest countries,” U.N. Population Division Director Hania Zlotnik said, the AP reports. “If they don’t achieve the lower level of fertility we are projecting they could have serious problems,” Zlotnik warned.

“A world of 7 billion is both a challenge and an opportunity,” according to Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund, who said that “finding ways to ensure the well-being of people alive today, as well as the generations that follow, will require new ways of thinking and unprecedented global cooperation” (5/3).

“The new projections are a wake-up call for governments to fulfill the global demand for contraception,” said Suzanne Ehlers, president of Population Action International, Inter Press Service reports (Deen, 5/3).

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