World Population Day: The world at 7 billion

Woman of color smiling with colorful scarf

Today is World Population Day, an annual event hosted by the United Nations Population Fund.

The focus this year is “the world at 7 billion,” which represents how many people the world population is expected to surpass this year. I was happy to see that their messaging wasn’t too focused on population control:

This year, as the world population is expected to surpass 7 billion, UNFPA and partners are launching a campaign called 7 Billion Actions. It aims to engage people, spur commitment and spark actions related to the opportunities and challenges presented by a world of 7 billion people.

In many ways a world of 7 billion is an achievement: Globally, people are living longer and healthier lives, and couples are choosing to have fewer children. However, because so many couples are in, or will soon be entering, their reproductive years, the world population is projected to increase for decades to come.  Meeting the needs of current and future generations presents daunting challenges.

Whether we can live together equitably on a healthy planet will depend on the choices and decisions we make now. In a world of 7 billion people, and counting, we need to count each other.

Today marks the launch of their 7 billion actions campaign as well.

The campaign page features a population clock, which does have an element of alarm-ism to it in regards to the size of the world population. While the number of people on earth is obviously an important factor in sustainability, climate change and resources, the more important element is often use of resources. In that regard, it’s countries like the United States that have a greater environmental impact than countries with population booms currently.

What that tells us is that the solution isn’t in controlling population growth in developing countries, but in managing and limiting our resource usage across the globe, but particularly in countries like the US. I’m cautiously optimistic about the framing of this campaign, which includes information about 7 key issues including family planning and reproductive rights, empowering women and girls, and the environment.

Check out the campaign here to learn more.

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