On Tuesday, November 15, 2022, it is projected that the world’s population will surpass 8 billion people. According to the UN’s World Population Prospects 2022, global population will continue to expand for decades, likely peaking around 10.4 billion by 2080. Global population reached 7 billion in 2011 and was estimated at 4 billion in 1974. Commenting on the 8 billion population milestone, Kathleen Mogelgaard, President and CEO of the Population Institute, made the following statement:
“The Day of 8 billion is an important turning point and wake-up call. The largest generation in human history is coming of age right now. The reproductive decisions they make – and the opportunities, services, and rights they can claim — will profoundly influence our global future.
Rapid population growth in the 20th century reflects public health progress, which lowered infant and child mortality and extended people’s lives. But continued rapid growth would adversely affect people and the planet, stressing public health, the climate and environment, food security, water, and infrastructure, and fueling civil conflict, displacement, and global inequity. These are challenges that will reverberate in every corner of the world.
The global population growth rate is slowing, and projected to level off in the 2080s. But in many places, rapid population growth will continue and add another 2.4 billion people in this century – the equivalent of 250 New York Cities. Most of that growth will be concentrated in Africa and other places in the global South. This concentration reflects severe inequities facing women, youth, and marginalized communities in these places.
Today, hundreds of millions of people around the world lack reproductive autonomy. They are not free to decide whether, when, and with whom to become a parent. Half of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended, a situation the United Nations Population Fund calls a “neglected crisis of unintended pregnancy.”
We need to do better, and we can. Population growth projections are not the same as predictions; our population trajectory can change. We know that dismantling barriers to family planning services, helping girls stay in school longer and reach higher levels of educational attainment, and upholding women’s autonomy and rights—all important development objectives in their own right— also have the important effect of bending the population growth curve. If governments and development donors invest more in policies and programs that do these things starting now, we’ll have slower growth, and a more just and sustainable future.”