Sure, you might know that there are more than 7 billion people on earth right now, but how often do you stop to think about what that really means? World Population Day is a holiday that’s dedicated to focusing on the importance of population issues. The day was established by the United Nations as an outgrowth of the massive interest people had in Five Billion Day in 1987. Five Billion Day was meant to acknowledge the date that the world’s population reached five billion people, which supposedly happened on July 11 of that year (hence the annual date). And look how much the population has increased since then! Population issues cover a lot of territory, from family planning to gender equality to environmental impacts to human rights concerns. Read on for more information to help you celebrate this important holiday.
World Population Day timeline
- April 24, 2017
On this day, statistical models estimate that the world population reached 7.5 billion
Just 40 years after it reached 3 billion, the population doubles to 6 billion
A Holiday Is Born
The United Nations recognizes July 11 as World Population Day
The world population reaches 3 billion
The world population doubles to 2 billion
The world population reaches 1 billion people
How to Observe World Population Day
There is an enormous amount of information out there about population issues, so use World Population Day to do some research. A great place to start is with the United Nations Populations Fund, the lead UN agency for tackling population issues. We know there is a wide breadth of resources, so choose a few that really interest you and take a deep dive into their problems and potential solutions.
Then share that information with your networks
As we said earlier, if you live in a developed nation, you probably aren’t that affected by population issues, at least in ways that are visible in your day-to-day life. That means your friends, family, and followers probably aren’t, either. Use World Population Day to ask people to have a good long think on these issues, and what they can do to help. If you’re posting on social media, make sure to hashtag it with #worldpopulationday.
Donate to organizations focused on population issues
There are so many amazing nonprofits and NGOs out there that are doing tough work on population issues every single day, especially in the developing world. They include organizations that educate women about contraception and family planning, ones that help people lift themselves out of poverty, and ones that help refugees that have fled their homes because of environmental issues or human rights abuses. If you are able, find ways to donate your time and/or your money to these heroic organizations.
Why World Population Day is Important
It touches everyone
If you live a comfortable lifestyle in a first world country like the United States, you probably don’t think of population issues of having that much of an effect on your life. However, the more people are added to the population, the more power and food is needed to sustain all of them. It’s hard to keep up that food and power production at the rate that the population is growing, and efforts to do so are contributing greatly to climate change, which affects you no matter where you live.
It asks us to look forward
World Population Day obviously reminds us to look at the current population and population issues that influence how people live now. However, it’s really focused on the future, and what efforts it will take to slow population growth. The most important thing to think of is what the world will look like for your kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, etc. if the population continues to grow at this rate.
There’s a big disparity in how population issues affect different countries
Population issues disproportionately affect people in developing countries. For instance, did you know that people in very poor countries have a life expectancy that’s about 20 years shorter than people in rich, developed countries? How about that 1/3 of population growth is due to unplanned pregnancies, which often happen when people are lacking education and family planning services? World Population Day is a good reminder to step outside ourselves and focus on these important issues.