7 billion people

Overpopulation1The global population will reach seven billion at the end of this week, according to the United Nations, a milestone that creates unprecedented challenges and opportunities.

“The seven-billionth citizen will be born into a world of contradictions,” Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, told a panel discussion at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

“We have plenty of food yet millions are still starving. We see luxurious lifestyles yet millions are impoverished. We have great opportunities for progress but also great obstacles.”

The financial crisis appears to have accelerated some of the changes. Today most developing economies are growing at a fast rate, albeit coming from a low level, while most developed economies are still struggling to cope with the aftermath of the recession.

Asia Pacific’s population of high-net-worth individuals, for example, grew by 9.7% to 3.3 million last year, topping Europe’s for the first time ever, according the 2011 Asia-Pacific Wealth Report.

The rich list published by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini, places the region second only to North America.

High-net-worth individuals, which own investible assets of more than $1 million (€727,848), saw their wealth rise by 12.1% last year. Combined, they now own $10.8 trillion, compared to $10.2 trillion of those in Europe.

The current world population is projected to reach 10.1 billion in the next ninety years, totalling 9.3 billion by the middle of this century.

Much of this increase is projected to come from the high-fertility countries, which comprise 39 countries in Africa, nine in Asia, six in Oceania and four in Latin America.

This raises questions whether, and if so how, the earth can support seven billion people and a further three billion, which are to be added at the end of the century. Is the growth in population, urbanisation and consumption reconcilable with health, environmental quality and equality?

©2011 funds europe