Statistical Papers - United Nations (Ser. A), Population and Vital Statistics Report

English
ISSN: 
2412-138X (online)
http://dx.doi.org/10.18356/e59eddca-en
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The Population and Vital Statistics Report series presents data for countries or areas on population size (total, male, and female) from the latest available census, estimated total population size for the later available year, and the number and rate of vital events (live births, deaths, and infant deaths) for the latest available year within the past 15 years. These data are presented as reported by national statistical authorities to the Demographic Yearbook of the Statistics Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
 
Integrating population issues into sustainable development, including in the post-2015 development agenda

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Author(s):
UN
19 Feb 2015
Pages:
48
ISBN:
9789210574266 (PDF)
http://dx.doi.org/10.18356/8850f58b-en

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In its decision 2013/101, the Commission on Population and Development decided that the special theme for its forty-eighth session would be “Realizing the future we want: integrating population issues into sustainable development, including in the post-2015 development agenda”. The present report is one of three reports that have been produced to guide the Commission’s deliberations. The central challenge in designing the post-2015 development agenda is to ensure that efforts to improve the quality of life of the present generation are far-reaching, broad and inclusive but do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Accomplishing this goal hinges on the ability of the international community to ensure access to resources for growing numbers of people, eradicate poverty, move away from unsustainable patterns of consumption and production and safeguard the environment. In designing and implementing the new development agenda it is important to understand and account for the demographic changes that are likely to unfold over the next 15 years. While much remains unknown about the rate of transformation of the global economy or the speed at which technological advancements will be needed to improve efficiency and reduce humanity’s environmental footprint, the speed and direction of population change, at least in the near future, is far more predictable. The report focuses on the demographic changes that are projected to occur over the next 15 years and discusses what they imply for efforts to achieve sustainable development.
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  • Preface
    In its decision 2013/101, the Commission on Population and Development decided that the special theme for its forty-eighth session would be “Realizing the future we want: integrating population issues into sustainable development, including in the post-2015 development agenda”. The present report is one of three reports that have been produced to guide the Commission’s deliberations.
  • Introduction
    Significant progress has been made over the past 20 years in combating global poverty and addressing other internationally agreed development goals, such as improving gender equality, lowering child mortality, raising educational attainment and improving sanitation and access to clean drinking water. However, progress has been uneven within and across countries and regions and the benefits of social and economic progress have not been shared equally. At the same time, there is growing evidence that population growth, combined with economic development, rising standards of living and a higher level of consumption has resulted in changing patterns of land use, increased energy use and the depletion of natural resources, with signs of climate change and environmental degradation more visible than ever before.
  • Preparing for a larger global population
    World population has increased by 2 billion people over the past 25 years, from 5.3 billion in 1990 to 7.3 billion in 2015. Although population growth rates have slowed, the world’s population is still growing by an additional 81 million people per year. By 2030, the target year for the achievement of the post-2015 development agenda, the global economy will need to support approximately 8.4 billion people (see table 1). With the exception of Europe, where total population is projected to decrease by slightly less than 1 per cent by 2030, all other regions are projected to grow by at least 10 per cent over the next 15 years. Africa, long the poorest and least developed continent, will account for more than 40 per cent of the absolute increase in population so that, by 2030, the region will account for nearly one fifth of the world’s total population.
  • Preparing for the next 2 billion newborns
    Between 2015 and 2030, the time frame for the post-2015 development agenda, projections indicate that 2.1 billion babies will be born worldwide, an increase of 2 per cent over the total number of births over the previous 15-year period (see table 2). Approximately half of these babies will be born in Asia and one third will be born in Africa. Whereas relatively fewer births are projected for Europe, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean over the next 15 year period, compared with the past 15 years, relatively more births are projected in Africa, Oceania and North America. An increasing number of births poses particularly significant challenges for low-income countries, where the rates of poverty and malnutrition are already high, levels of education are low, health-care systems are weak and the rates of infant and child mortality are high. Increased coverage, utilization and quality of sexual and reproductive health-care services for women and adolescents, particularly for those who do not want to become pregnant, combined with effective antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal interventions could, by 2025, avert 71 per cent of neonatal deaths (1.9 million), 33 per cent of stillbirths (0.82 million) and 54 per cent of maternal deaths (0.16 million) per annum.
  • Preparing for the next 2 billion children to reach school age
    Between 2015 and 2030, projections indicate that approximately 2.0 billion children will reach the age of 5, 144 million more than during the previous 15-year period (see table 3). Africa can expect a 34 per cent increase in the number of 5-year olds, Oceania a 16 per cent increase, and North America a 10 per cent increase. These children, like those before them, will require a range of services, including access to child-friendly health-care services, and will need to be enrolled in primary education.
  • Preparing for the next 1.9 billion young people
    Between 2015 and 2030, 1.9 billion young people are projected to turn 15 years old, a 3 per cent increase at the global level. This young generation represents a major promise for economic development, technological innovation and social change. Globally, the total number of young people is at an all-time high, with 1.2 billion people between the ages of 15 and 24 in 2015 and nearly 1.3 billion projected by 2030. The number of adolescents and youth aged between 15 and 24-years old in Africa will increase from 226 million in 2015 to 321 million in 2030. Increases in the number of young people will be particularly visible in several low- or lower-middle-income African countries, including Burundi, Mali, the Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia, where the number of young people aged between 15 and 24 is projected to increase by more than 60 per cent between 2015 and 2030 (see figure VI). In stark contrast, the number of young people in Asia, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean is projected to decline, in some cases significantly. For example, the population aged between 15 and 24 will decline by around 8 per cent in Brazil, China and the Netherlands between 2015 and 2030, and by more than 20 per cent in Albania, Cuba and Thailand.
  • Preparing for the next cohorts of reproductive age while promoting gender equity and empowering women
    Between 2015 and 2030, the total number of women of reproductive age is projected to increase by 144 million, from 1.9 billion to 2.0 billion. While the number of women of reproductive age will drop by 10 per cent or more in a number of European countries between 2015 and 2030, it will increase in all other major areas and by 45 per cent in Africa (see figure IX).
  • Preparing for larger numbers of older persons
    Patterns of declining mortality and fertility over the past two decades have led to significant shifts in the age structure of the world’s population, so that persons aged 60 or over are now the world’s fastest growing age group. While the population ageing process is most advanced in countries of Europe and North America, where 1 of every 5 people is aged 60 or over according to figures for 2015, a rapid growth in the number of older persons is expected over the next 15 years across all major income groups and areas of the world (see figure XI), raising questions about the well-being of older persons with regard to their economic security in old age, their health, their level of informal and formal support networks and the protection of their rights. No reference was made to the needs of older persons in the United Nations Millennium Declaration (General Assembly resolution 55/2), which was signed in 2000 when persons aged 60 or over comprised 10 per cent of the world’s population. However, concerns about population ageing can be expected to grow over the next 15 years, given that by 2030, 16 per cent of people worldwide will be aged 60 or older.
  • Preparing for growing numbers of urban residents
    Cities are currently home to more than half of the world’s population, and all of the 1.1 billion increase in global population over the next 15 years is expected to occur in urban areas. All regions, with the exception of Europe, are projected to record increases in the sizes of their urban populations of at least 15 per cent. Africa and Asia are projected to have the largest increases in the sizes of their urban populations (see table 4). Further, the number and size of the world’s largest cities are unprecedented. At the beginning of the twentieth century, only 16 cities contained 1 million people or more. Today, there are over 500 such cities and many of the most rapidly growing cities are located in countries least able to keep up with the demand for housing and basic services. Megacities, defined as urban agglomerations of 10 million inhabitants or more, have also become both more numerous and considerably larger in size. In 2015, 6.4 per cent of the world’s population resides in megacities. By 2030 that proportion is expected to increase to 8.7 per cent.
  • Preparing for future migration
    In recent years, international migration has grown in scope and complexity. The number of international migrants, defined as persons living outside of their country of birth, rose by nearly 5 per cent, from 221 million in 2010 to 232 million in 2013. Asia and Europe added the largest number of international migrants during this period, around 3 million each, significantly more than all other major areas. The next 15 years could see upwards of 30 million international migrants added worldwide, if current trends continue.
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability
    The Millennium Development Goals framework only partially integrated environmental concerns, which have become more pressing over the past 20 years. Population growth, increasing standards of living and higher consumption of energy and natural resources have unquestionably contributed to substantial and fundamental changes in the earth’s environment. Evidence of global warming is now unequivocal. The concentration of greenhouse gases trapped in the earth’s atmosphere has increased, the atmosphere and the ocean have warmed, ice caps have receded and sea levels have risen. The irreversible loss of biodiversity provides some of the clearest evidence of a failure of global stewardship by the current generation.
  • Global partnerships for sustainable development
    Numerous documents including the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the report of the Secretary-General on a framework of actions for the follow-up to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development beyond 2014 (A/69/62) and the recent synthesis report of the Secretary-General on the post-2015 development agenda, entitled “The road to dignity by 2030: ending poverty, transforming all lives and protecting the planet” (A/69/700) have stressed the importance of global partnerships for sustainable development. The further implementation of the Programme of Action requires a revitalized global partnership that incorporates all relevant stakeholders at the national, regional and global levels. Multi-stakeholder partnerships have proven successful in mobilizing resources, building trust among stakeholders and fostering consensus around controversial issues. They have also brought about efficiency gains in programme delivery.10 Initiatives such as Every Woman, Every Child, which was launched by the Secretary-General in 2010 and aims to mobilize and intensify international and national action by Governments, the private sector and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women and children around the world, have proven successful in this regard.11 In the field of international migration, several partnership initiatives between Governments in countries of origin and destination, international organizations and civil society have also proven successful.
  • Discussion and recommendations
    The growth of the world’s population over the past 60 years has been unprecedented. World population reached 7.3 billion in 2015, twice the number of people that were on the planet in 1969, reflecting the progress that has been made in combating infectious and childhood diseases and in reducing the burden of premature and avoidable deaths, especially in the poorest countries of the world. Nevertheless, the rapid growth of the world’s population, in combination with increasing prosperity, higher standards of living and unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, has led to growing concerns about the impact of human actions on the environment. While the relationship between population size and growth, consumption, technology and the environment is far from simple, lower population growth combined with more responsible patterns of consumption and production would ease pressure on ecosystems to generate food, preserve natural resources and allow the world more time to identify and adopt new technologies.
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