Monday, August 17, 2009

Population growth could also put MDGs out of reach

The Millennium Development Goals are facing another setback, population rates rising too fast. The MGDs already suffered a set back from the global economic recession, but experts fear population growth that is faster than expected could put the goals out of reach.

From this IPS story, reporter Thalif Deen examines what effect population has on the MGDs.

The goal of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 could be jeopardised by soaring population growth, mostly in the developing world.

World population is expected to reach seven billion by 2011, a year earlier than expected, according to the latest figures released by the Population Research Bureau last week.

"The population will hit seven billion in the second half of 2011," predicts Jose Miguel Guzman, chief of the Population and Development Branch at the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

Since 1975, he said, world population has been increasing by about a billion every 12 years.

"Given that the six billion mark was reached in 1999, the attainment of seven billion seems to be more or less on track," Guzman told IPS.

Of the growth between 1999 and 2011, he said, 95 percent is in the developing world.

Asked how the rise in population growth will impact on developing nations reaching their MDGs by 2015, Guzman said that many developing, and particularly the least developed countries (LDCs), will face a continuous increase in the demand for services, specifically in education and health.

That means there will be an increasing need for social investment just to catch up with population growth, giving fewer opportunities to increase the quality of services, which is needed to generate the changes requested to attain the MDGs, he added.

The MDGs include a 50 percent reduction in extreme poverty and hunger; universal primary education; promotion of gender equality; reduction of child mortality by two-thirds; cutbacks in maternal mortality by three-quarters; combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and developing a North-South global partnership for development.

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