Today, 11th July, marks World Population Day #WPD2017. World Population Day seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues.1
The day was born out of the interest generated by the Day of Five Billion, which was observed on the 11th July 1987. This day was designated by the United Nations Population Fund as the day on which the world population reached five billion.2
Thirty years since the Day of Five Billion, we have already marked the Day of Six Billion and the Day of Seven Billion, and the current population stands at just over 7.5 billion.3
Having taken thousands of years to reach 1 billion, the world population has grown sevenfold in just over 200 years,4 and the global population growth is now projected to be over one billion in the next 13 years (1.10% per year).5
The increase in the size of the population and rate of growth is mainly due to modern day improvements in health care and sanitation. These factors mean that more people survive to reproductive age and have contributed to longer life expectancies. Although birth rates have declined – women had an average of 4.5 children in 1970, compared to 2.5 in 2014 – they have not fallen at the same pace as mortality rates.4
Although the rate of population growth is starting to slow (from 1.24% to 1.10% per year in the last ten years) it is predicted that the world population will reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100.5
With an increasing global population, every year World Population Day aims to increase people's awareness of various population issues.
Previous themes of World Population Day include:
These themes seek to focus attention on the importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health and human rights.
This year’s theme is Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations.
In 2012, the United Nations Population Fund’s annual report stated that access to birth control is an essential human right. Yet 225 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are still unable to access contraception, with contraceptive prevalence increasing by just 0.1% in the last few years. Reasons for this range from lack of information and resources, to ambivalence on the part of government and local communities. Of these women, most live in the 69 poorest countries on earth.7,8
Safe and effective contraception prevents unintended pregnancies and reduces the number of abortions. Family planning also lowers the incidence of death and disability related to complications of pregnancy and childbirth.7
Access to contraceptive information is also central to gender equality and women’s empowerment. If women and couples are able to choose when they want to start a family, women have the opportunity to complete education and increase their earning power.7
Family planning also has an impact on the enjoyment of other human rights, including health and education. The number and the spacing of the children within a family can affect schooling prospects. Allowing families to choose when they want children can improve the income and well-being of both men and women. Family planning can help countries develop, helping to boost economic productivity.8
This year, World Population Day coincides with the Family Planning Summit, the second meeting of the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) initiative. FP2020 is a global partnership that supports the rights of women and girls to decide freely, and for themselves, whether, when, and how many children they want to have. Their aim is to expand access to voluntary family planning to 120 million additional women by 2020.9