It was pleasing that The Canberra Times put the subject of world population growth (“2050 population 9 billion: UN”, March 15) on its front page. The story reported that the expected 2.5 billion increase from now until 2050 will be equivalent to the world’s entire population in 1950, but missed the United Nations’ qualification that the rise could be twice that figure unless birth rates continue to fall. The announcement by the UN observed that “the urgency of realizing the reductions of fertility projected” is brought into focus by considering that “if fertility stays at current rates, the world will add about five billion people, nearing 12 billion by 2050”.
The head of the UN Population Fund, Thoraya Obaid, said about 200 million women in poorer countries lacked access to safe and effective contraceptive services which “could free them from unintended child-bearing and empower them to help reduce poverty”.
The Australian government should heed the call by parliamentarians from 100 countries who at a UN meeting in Bangkok last November agreed on a target of at least 10 per cent of the development assistance budgets to be spent on population and reproductive health programs. In Australia’s case this would mean more than doubling its current spending in this area. It would be great to hear our leaders debating this rather than who had dinner with whom.