8 November 2001


NEW YORK, 7 November (UN Headquarters) -- On 7 November, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will release "The State of World Population 2001" report, "Footprints and Milestones: Population and Environmental Change".

Human activity is altering the planet on an unprecedented scale, the report points out. More people are using more resources with more intensity -– and leaving a bigger "footprint" on the earth -– than ever before.

Global poverty cannot be alleviated without reversing the environmental damage caused by both rising affluence and consumption and by growing populations, the report stresses. It calls for increased attention and resources to balancing human and environmental needs.

World population, now 6.1 billion, has doubled since 1960 and is projected to grow by half, to 9.3 billion, by 2050. Some 2 billion people already lack food security, and water supplies and agricultural lands are under increasing pressure. Water use has risen sixfold over the past 70 years; by 2050, 4.2 billion people will be living in countries that cannot meet people’s daily basic needs. Unclean water and poor sanitation kill over 12 million people each year; air pollution kills nearly 3 million.

The report examines the close links between environmental conditions, population trends, and prospects for alleviating poverty in developing countries. It finds that expanding women’s opportunities and ensuring their reproductive health and rights are critically important, both to improve the well-being of growing human populations and to protect the natural world.

"The State of World Population 2001" will be launched at press conferences in London, Paris, New York, Washington and numerous other cities worldwide. The full report and accompanying press materials will be accessible on the UNFPA Web site, www.unfpa.org. Journalists may access the report before 7 November by requesting a password from rector@unfpa.org.

Major findings include:

-- Empowering women and enabling them to have only the number of children they want would lead to smaller families and slower population growth, easing pressure on the environment and buying time to make crucial decisions about the future.

-- Internationally agreed actions to reduce poverty, empower women and promote social development need to be implemented and adequately funded to ensure the well-being of growing human populations while protecting the natural world.

-- Next year's Johannesburg 2002 review of the 1992 Earth Summit agreement will present an opportunity to incorporate this integrated social agenda -- including education for all and universal access to reproductive health care and family planning -- into initiatives to promote sustainable development.

Key Facts

-- All of the projected growth in world population will take place in today's developing countries. The 49 least developed countries will nearly triple in size in 50 years, from 668 million to 1.86 billion people.

-- To accommodate the nearly 8 billion people expected on earth by 2025 and improve their diets, the world will have to double food production and improve distribution.

-- The world's richest countries, with 20 per cent of global population, account for 86 per cent of private consumption, the poorest 20 per cent account for just 1.3 per cent. A child born today in an industrialized country will add more to consumption and pollution over his or her lifetime than 30 to 50 children born in developing countries.

-- Nearly 60 per cent of people in developing countries lack basic sanitation, a third do not have access to clean water, one quarter lack adequate housing, 20 per cent do not have access to modern health services, and 20 per cent of children do not attend school through grade five.

-- Support from international donors for reproductive health and population programmes is less than half the amount required to meet basic needs.

The UNFPA is the world's largest multilateral source of population assistance. Since it became operational in 1969, it has provided more than $5 billion to developing countries to meet reproductive health needs and support sustainable development efforts.

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