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World population hits 8 billion – UN

As the world’s population hits eight billion people on Tuesday, United Nations (UN) has called for solidarity in advancing sustainable development for the benefit of all.

The call is in a statement issued by the UN on Tuesday, made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja by Hajiya Kori Habib, the Media Associate of the UNFPA in Nigeria.

The UN described the attainment of eight billion world population as “a milestone in human development; a world of infinite possibilities.”

Habib added, “this unprecedented growth is due to the gradual increase in human lifespan, owing to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine.’’

She stated that while the “Day of 8 Billion’’ represented a success story for humanity, it also raised concerns about links between population growth, poverty, climate change and the achievement of SDGs.

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Acknowledging that the relationship between population growth and sustainable development is complex, the UN stated “rapid population growth makes eradicating poverty, combating hunger and malnutrition and increasing coverage of health and education systems more difficult. “Conversely, achieving the SDGs, especially those related to health, education and gender equality, will contribute to slowing global population growth.’’

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Habib added that while it took the global population 12 years to grow from seven billion to eight billion, it would take approximately 15 years, until 2037, for it to reach nine billion, “a sign that the overall growth rate of the global population is slowing.”

She added: “The milestone is an occasion to celebrate diversity and advancements while considering humanity’s shared responsibility for the planet.

“It is also the result of high and persistent levels of fertility in some countries.’’

According to the UN, countries with the highest fertility levels tend to be those with the lowest income per capita.

Habib stated that global population growth, over time, became increasingly concentrated among the world’s poorest countries, most of which in sub-Saharan Africa.

She added: “Against this backdrop, therefore, the global community must ensure that all countries, regardless of whether their populations are growing or shrinking, provide the means for quality lives for their citizens, as well as lift and empower the most marginalised people.’’

“Population growth magnifies the environmental impact of economic development, while rising per capita incomes are the main drivers of unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.’’

“Yet, slower population growth over many decades could help to mitigate further accumulation of environmental damage in the second half of the current century.’’

The world body, therefore, advised that achieving SDGs, delivering human rights and leaving no one behind could usher in a world where all the eight billion people could thrive.

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It advised that the attainment of the milestone should be a clarion call for humanity to look beyond the numbers and meet its shared responsibility to protect people and the planet, starting with the most vulnerable.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres, was quoted as saying: “Unless we bridge the yawning chasm between the global haves and the have-nots, we are setting ourselves up for an eight-billion-strong world filled with tension and mistrust, crisis and conflict.’’

The Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr Natalia Kanem, said “a world of eight billion is a milestone for humanity – the result of longer lifespan, reduction in poverty and declining maternal and childhood mortality.”

“Yet, focusing on numbers alone distracts us from the real challenge we face: securing a world in which progress can be enjoyed equally and sustainably.”

“We cannot rely on one-size-fits-all solutions in a world in which the median age is 41 in Europe compared to 17 in sub-Saharan Africa.”

“To succeed, all population policies must have reproductive rights at their core, invest in people and planet, and be based on solid data.”

NAN reports that UNFPA’s mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

On his part, Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, called for accelerated efforts to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and achieve the SDGs.

He said: ”We need a rapid decoupling of economic activities from the current over-reliance on fossil-fuel energy.”

“We need to make this a just and inclusive transition that supports those left furthest behind.” (NAN)

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