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Integrating population issues into sustainable development, including in the post-2015 development agenda

image of Integrating population issues into sustainable development, including in the post-2015 development agenda
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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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.

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