In a newly released report, the United Nations said the world will welcome the 8 billionth citizen on July 15. According to the UNFPA, the 8 billion mark is a success story. Executive Director of UNFPA Natalia Kanem stressed humanity's remarkable progress in increasing life expectancy, reducing infant and maternal mortality and poverty globally. Natalia Kanem affirmed that there are more educated people living healthier lives today than at any previous point in history.
However, the milestone of 8 billion people is also an urgent reminder of the world's shared responsibility in fulfilling its commitments to protect the "green planet" and overcome challenges. The UNFPA stated that humanity is facing extremely urgent problems. The impacts of climate change, conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic can have multi-generational effects on vulnerable populations.
In addition, there are still millions of people living in poverty and undernourished, lacking access to health care and social protection services and being unable to complete a quality primary and secondary education. In many places, women are still not guaranteed basic rights.
The growing population associated with the ageing process have also created great socio-economic and environmental challenges, posing an urgent need to ensure the quality of life for all people. According to the latest report by the UN, the global average life expectancy has increased from 64.6 in the early 1990s to 72.6 in 2019 and is expected to continue to increase. This means that there are more people in need of health care and housing services and it is essential to consolidate resources for aged care.
Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs of the UN, noted that “the relationship between population growth and sustainable development is complex and multidimensional”. Rapid population growth makes eradicating poverty, combatting hunger and malnutrition, and increasing the coverage of health and education systems more difficult. Meanwhile, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to health, education and gender equality, will contribute to reducing fertility levels and slowing global population growth.
UNFPA Executive Director stressed that creating a more just and sustainable world requires equal rights and opportunities for all. The reality shows that investing in people, in their rights and choices, is the path to peaceful, prosperous and sustainable societies. Experts recommended that the governments should implement population-centric policies.
Countries with a growing share of the working-age population should invest in the further development of their human capital by ensuring access to health care and quality education and by promoting opportunities for employment. Meanwhile, countries with ageing populations should improve health care, the sustainability of social security and pension systems.
The theme of the 2022 World Population Day is “A world of 8 billion: Towards a resilient future for all – Harnessing opportunities and ensuring rights and choices for all”. With the right investment policies, population of 8 billion people can be the key to solving challenges, building a better life and ensuring a sustainable future for the world.