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The Day of 6 Billion
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October 12:
The Day Of 6 Billion

October 12, 1999, has been designated by the United Nations as the Day of 6 Billion, a symbolic observation of this historic population milestone.

According to United Nations projections, the Earth's population could be 7 billion, 9 billion or 11 billion in 50 years, depending upon the decisions made by today's young people about bearing children.

The number 6 billion does not mean much, especially if people are unaware of concepts like "population momentum." They are usually surprised to learn that it took hundreds of thousands of years to reach 1 billion in 1804; and that the 3 billion milestone came in 1960, and global population has doubled since then, to 6 billion in 1999.

Meeting the Needs of 6 Billion People

The number of people on earth is not the real story. The real story is improving the quality of life of every one of the 6 billion. The Day of 6 Billion is a time of reflection and action to ensure a healthy and safe future for our children and grandchildren.

  • At 1.07 billion, this is the history's largest generation of young people between 15 and 24. The reproductive choices these young people make will likely determine the planet's future. As they move into adulthood, these young people need access to family planning and reproductive health services, education, jobs and a healthy environment.
  • More than half the world's population is female (equal to the world's entire population in 1960). But too many women and girls in too many countries lack the right to decide their own futures and are denied opportunities for education, employment and health care. Around the world and here in the United States, the more education a girl receives, the more likely she is to postpone pregnancy, the safer her pregnancies will be and the fewer and healthier children she will have.
  • Our global environment is stressed by wasteful consumption, the pressures of rapid population growth and over-development. We may not have solutions to concerns of global warming, acid rain, environmental health or air and water pollution, but we do know what works to produce successful family planning and reproductive health programs.

Putting People First In an historic consensus, governments of the world came together at the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994. They agreed on a Programme of Action that puts people first and slows rapid population growth at the same time. The goals are to:

  • Improve and expand family planning and reproductive health care for all who want and need it.
  • Increase self-determination, education and economic opportunities to improve the status of women and girls.
  • End practices such as female genital mutilation and other forms of violence against women.
  • Invest $17 billion per year in global population and development programs - two-thirds from developing nations, one third from the developed world.

Fulfilling the Promise

As the third most populated country on earth, the United States needs to affirm its status as a world leader and meet its financial responsibilities. The needs of 6 billion people cannot be met unless U.S. policymakers fulfill their promise made at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 to help provide population and development funding in countries that cannot afford it themselves.

  • Most of the money for international family planning programs - two-thirds of it - is already coming from the developing countries that need it most.
  • Financial and technical help is needed from richer countries.
  • The United States should continue its financial commitment to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and increase other international humanitarian assistance through USAID programs.

Note: The Day of 6 Billion was originally anticipated in July 1999. In October 1998, the U.N. Population Division released the 1998 Revised Population Estimates. These revised figures showed that the global population growth rate had been reduced primarily as a result of successful family planning programs, as well as an increased death rate in Africa due to AIDS. Based on these new figures, the U.N. estimated that global population would reach 6 billion in mid-October 1999.

September 1999