UNITED NATIONS, New York—New world population projections for the year 2050 by the United Nations underline the need to provide couples with the means to exercise their human right to determine freely the number of their children, said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.
World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision—highlights of which were released today by the Population Division of the United Nations— projects world population to rise by 2.3 billion people, from today’s 6.8 billion to 9.1 billion in 2050. The report’s figures assume that fertility will continue falling in developing countries. If fertility remains constant, world population will reach 11 billion, surpassing the 9.1 billion projected by 2050, with less developed nations’ population rising to 9.8 billion, instead of the 7.9 billion currently projected.
“This report is a timely warning to world leaders of the long-term consequences of failing to invest in the needs of about 200 million women who lack access to safe and effective contraceptives,” said Ms. Obaid. “Funding for family planning must be increased to meet the expressed needs of these women, which would not only shape our future, but also reduce maternal death and reduce unwanted pregnancies. We should also expand access to an essential package of reproductive health services, including family planning, safe motherhood and HIV prevention.”
Funding for family planning has dropped from 40 per cent of population assistance in 1997 to 5 per cent in 2007, reaching a low of $338 million. The target agreed on by the international community was $4.2 billion per year.
Currently, about half of the people in developing countries are younger than 25, World Population Prospects adds. This proportion is 60 per cent in least developed nations. This, the report warns, will pose major challenges to nations in providing education and jobs, even as the current economic crisis unfolds.
“Countries should solve these challenges in ways that also ensure the participation of young people as effective actors in their societies,” said Ms. Obaid.
World Population Prospects also projects that the number of people aged 60 and above will rise from today’s 264 million to 416 million in 2050 in developed countries and from 475 million to 1.6 billion in developing nations.
“These facts should hasten advance planning for ageing in developing countries by investing in systems that provide older persons with social and economic protection,” said Ms. Obaid.
“Since ageing coincides with history’s largest-ever cohort of young people,” Ms. Obaid continued, “the challenge is to meet the needs of older persons while also providing for those of the young, especially in developing nations.”
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