The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report – The State of World Population 2011 - emphasized that actions taken today will decide whether the future will be healthy, sustainable and prosperous or if it will be marked by inequalities, environmental decline and economic setbacks.
The report noted that ending poverty in a world of seven billion people could only happen through investing in the health and education of children and youth. This would allow the states which are struggling with huge inequality and poverty the ability to develop the human capital necessary for future economic development.
With this human capital, these states would instead face a continuation of the current reality of disparity and the hundreds of millions of people within their borders who lack the most basic ingredients for a decent life.
In the foreword to the study, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin stated that “with planning and the right investments in people now, to empower them to make choices that are not only good for themselves, but also for our global commons, our world of 7 billion can have thriving sustainable cities, productive labour forces that fuel economies, and youth populations that contribute to the well-being of their societies.”
Mr. Osotimehin emphasized that “Young people hold the key to the future, with the potential to transform the global political landscape and to propel economies through their creativity and capacities for innovation.”
This is especially crucial givens that of the world’s now 7 billion people, 1.8 billion are between the ages of 10 and 24.
Despite development efforts such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), massive disparities remain among and within countries and in the rights and opportunities between men and women, girls and boys.
How the world reached a population of 7 billion can be reflected in inequality, as evidenced by the fact that 215 million women of child-bearing age in developing countries still lack access to voluntary family planning.
At the same time, millions of adolescent girls and boys have little access to sex education and information on how to prevent pregnancies or protect themselves from HIV.