World population hits 8 billion, UN says, as growth poses more challenges for the planet


According to a United Nations forecast, the world’s population will reach 8 billion on Tuesday, a “phase of human development” before birth rates begin to decline.

The UN statement said that this figure means that the world’s population has increased by 1 billion people in 12 years.

“This unprecedented growth is due to the gradual increase in human life expectancy due to the improvement of public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine. This is also the result of high and constant birth rates in some countries,” the UN statement said.

Middle-income countries, mainly in Asia, have accounted for most of the growth over the past decade, gaining nearly 700 million people since 2011. India has grown to 180 million people and is set to overtake China as the world’s most populous country next year.

But even as the world’s population reaches new highs, demographers note that the rate of growth has steadily declined to less than 1% per year. This should bring the world to 9 billion people by 2037. According to UN projections, the world population will reach 10.4 billion people in the 2080s and will remain at this level until 2100.

According to the UN, most of the 2.4 billion people who will be added before the world population peaks will be born in sub-Saharan Africa, ahead of China and India.

The most populous city in Niger, Lagos (pictured) is among the African metropolises that are poised to become the new megacities of the world.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a UN statement that reaching the world’s 8 billion population “is an opportunity to celebrate diversity and progress while considering humanity’s shared responsibility for the planet.”

Having more people on Earth puts more pressure on nature as humans compete with wildlife for water, food and space. Meanwhile, rapid population growth combined with climate change is also likely to lead to mass migration and conflict in the coming decades, experts say.

And whether it’s food or water, batteries or gasoline, as the world’s population grows, there will be less travel. But how much they consume is equally important, suggesting policymakers can make a big difference by changing consumption patterns.

According to a 2020 analysis by the Stockholm Environment Institute and the non-profit organization Oxfam International, carbon emissions from the richest 1%, or about 63 million people, were more than double those of the poorest half of humanity between 1990 and 2015.

Experts say the pressure on resources will be particularly dire in African countries, where populations are growing. These are also among the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts and most in need of climate finance.


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