World Population Day - Compassion International

World Population Day
Population is a critical element affecting our future well-being. Through our programs we help the poor grasp the long-term implications of their decisions for themselves, their communities and their countries.
World Population Day: Influencing Future Human Well-being

World Population Day is held annually on July 11. It is an international day to raise global awareness about current population trends affecting the world. It focuses attention on global demographic issues including: poverty, gender equality, maternal health, hunger, disease, warfare and human rights.

World Population Day was first observed in 1990. It was established in 1989 by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme, in response to interest generated by the Day of Five Billion (July 11, 1987).

The Day of Five Billion was the approximate date the world population reached five billion people. Matej Gašpar from Zagreb, Croatia was the symbolic 5-billionth person.

A Growing World Population

Over 200 years ago, in 1804, the world population first reached 1 billion people. It took 123 years to double to 2 billion (1927) and a quarter of that time (33 years) to reach 3 billion (1960). Fifteen years later (1975) the world population climbed to 4 billion and another 12 years (1987) brought the number of people in the world to 5 billion. Six billion came just before the new millennium (1999), and the 7 billion milestone was passed in 2012.

The world population currently stands at 7.6 billion people (mid-2017) and is projected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030. It is increasing by approximately 83 million people each year (1.1 percent), and current estimates expect the world to contain more than 11 billion people by the turn of the century.

World Population and the Sustainable Development Goals

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) adopted by the United Nations in 2015, formally known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, include169 targets aimed at "ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity."

Although population matters are not directly mentioned in the 2030 Agenda, many of the SDG targets impact population growth, and since people are at the center of sustainable development, population issues will directly affect the achievement of the SDGs.

A study conducted by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the Asian Demographic Research Institute (ADRI) at Shanghai University and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that reaching the SDGs would lead to a peak world population in 2060 and a population between 8.2 and 8.7 billion at the turn of the century, 3 billion people less than the current projection of 11.2 billion.

Between now and the middle of the century, half of the world’s population growth is expected to occur in nine countries. Eight of the countries are in the developing world: India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda and Indonesia (ordered by their expected contribution to the total population growth). This concentration of population growth in the developing world and among the world’s poorest countries makes it more difficult for those countries, and the global community overall, to achieve the SDG targets.

"The future of world population growth matters for our efforts to improve the human lot and our impacts on the natural environment. The sizable effect on global population growth provides an additional rationale for vigorously pursuing the implementation of the SDGs." — IIASA World Population Program Director Wolfgang Lutz

A gathering of people in a Kenyan village.

World Population Day Themes
  • 2017: Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations
  • 2016: Investing in Teenage Girls
  • 2015: Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies
  • 2014: Investing in Young People
  • 2013: Focus is on Adolescent Pregnancy
  • 2012: Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services
  • 2011: 7 Billion Actions
  • 2010: Be Counted: Say What You Need
  • 2009: Fight Poverty: Educate Girls
  • 2008: Plan Your Family, Plan Your Future
  • 2007: Men at Work
  • 2006: Being Young is Tough
  • 2005: Equality Empowers
  • 2004: International Conference on Population and Development After 10 Years
  • 2003: 1,000,000,000 Adolescents

World Population Day Prayers

Almighty Father, you are the source of all goodness and love. You created the world and then made us in your likeness. Help us to care for your creation well. Teach us to be compassionate toward one another. Expand our desire to take care of and serve our fellow men and women. May we embrace you wholeheartedly and without reservation, so that kindness, peace and equality abound. Amen.

  • Pray for the poor of the world, that they may master their circumstances and fulfill the potential God placed in them.
  • Pray for the safety and well-being of those living in or fleeing from areas of conflict and oppression.
  • Pray for blessings upon those who work to bring relief to the world.
  • Pray that world leaders guide their nations toward unity and cooperation on behalf of all humankind.

Genesis 15:5 (NIV)

He took him outside and said, "Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."


The Pivotal Role of Families in Population Growth


Families play a pivotal role in society. Family behavior affects population growth. Fertility, mortality and child survival rates all directly contribute to the number of people on our planet. And education, particularly educating women, decisively impacts the decisions that adults and children make together as families.

Within the context of poverty and the disadvantage it works to keep alive for generations, we help families, youth and young adults create stability and security for themselves. We provide resources and education and training through our Youth Development Program and Educational Needs Fund. This includes:

  • Formal education assistance (e.g. textbooks and curriculum, supplies and fees for tests and labs, and access to secondary school, college and seminary, and preparation assistance for entrance exams).
  • Nonformal education such as: vocational training, apprenticeships, assistance with job searches and computer skills, and enrichment camps and retreats.
  • Income generation training, business skills education, the provision of equipment and materials to start businesses, and microenterprise opportunities, for families and youth to support themselves and create sustainable lives.

We specifically offer assistance to parents and caregivers to help them protect and lead their families well. We offer parenting skills programs that provide the foundation for making good decisions.

  • Parenting and marriage workshops
  • Hygiene and sanitation classes
  • Domestic violence and child abuse prevention seminars
  • Literacy and financial training
  • Disease awareness and prevention classes
  • Support from a community of caring parents


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