10 July 2001


NEW YORK, 9 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of World Population Day, 11 July:

The theme of this year's World Population Day, "Population, Development and the Environment", highlights the fragile relationship between our species and our planet.

The world's population has doubled since 1960, to 6.1 billion, with most of that growth occurring in developing countries. Since 1970, consumption has also doubled, with 86 per cent of that consumption coming in the developed world. Humanity must solve a complex equation: we must stabilize our numbers, but, equally important, we must stabilize our use of resources and ensure sustainable development for all.

Human beings consume six times as much water as we did 70 years ago, dangerously depleting local aquifers. Deforestation, pollution and emissions of carbon dioxide have reached unprecedented levels, altering the global climate. Our ecological footprints on the earth are heavier than ever before.

The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development recognized the importance of an integrated approach to reducing poverty, slowing population growth, and protecting the environment. Among the requirements for achieving these related goals are universal access to education and to reproductive health care and family planning. Women make up more than half the world's agricultural workforce and typically manage household resources. Yet, they are often denied the right to learn, to own or inherit land, and to control their own fertility. Enhancing women's opportunities enables them to make informed choices about family size -- and to break the vicious cycle of poverty and environmental degradation.

Next year's World Summit on Sustainable Development offers an opportunity to strengthen our commitment to these goals. Let us all, without delay, begin to tread more lightly on the earth, and take steps towards better use of its resources.

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