U.N. wants better life for world of 7 billion

Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:29pm EDT
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By Avril Ormsby

LONDON (Reuters) - Instead of worrying about sheer numbers when the world's population hits 7 billion next week, we should think about how to make the planet a better place for people to live in, the United Nations said in a report.

"It is both about consumption and population," the U.N.'s Population Fund Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said at a media conference to launch the report, referring to people's impact on the environment and economic growth.

While growing populations could be a drain on the world's resources, the U.N.'s Population Fund's "The State of World Population 2011" released Wednesday said a contributing factor was overconsumption by the existing population.

"With planning and the right investments in people now, to empower them to make choices that are not only good for themselves ... our world of 7 billion can have thriving sustainable cities, productive labor forces that fuel economies, and youth populations that contribute to the well-being of their societies," Osotimehin said in the report.

It was vital to engage with the world's youth and to harness their entrepreneurial skills to boost economies and prevent potential alienation, the report said.

Those under the age of 25 make up 43 percent of the population, and as much as 60 percent in some countries, and this group must be educated and trained if countries are to have a dynamic work force, it said. Failure to do so would see a loss of ideas, innovation as well as tax income.

A major contributor to the recent Arab uprisings was a youth unemployment rate of nearly 25 percent, the report quoted the International Labor Organization as saying.


<p>Indian children ride in a cart on the way home from school in the outskirts of New Delhi in this file picture taken, February 26, 2001. REUTERS/Pawel Kopcznski/Files</p>