If 9.1 billion people weren’t enough, the United Nations released the “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision” increasing the projections by half a billion people for 2050. Currently set at 7.3 billion people, the world population is projected to reach 8.3 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050, and a high of 11.2 billion in 2100. Half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in 9 countries from 2015 to 2050. These include, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America (USA), Indonesia and Uganda.
China and India are still the two largest countries in the world – each population with more than 1 billion people. This represents 19% and 18% of the world’s population. With that, the new projected increase in population creates a shift in the current population rankings. India is expected to surpass China by 2022 while Nigeria could surpass the United States by 2050.
Africa currently holds the highest rate of population growth, as it accounts for more than half of the world’s population growth between 2015 and 2050. However, high growth rates bring its own set of challenges. These include difficulties in eradicating poverty and inequality, reducing malnutrition, as well as expanding educational enrolment and health systems. These five themes are critical in achieving the new sustainable development goals.
At a time when it was already predicted that agriculture would need to increase production by 70% to meet these needs, the increase in the projections put daunting pressure on agriculture. Much of the population growth will come in urban areas and improved diets are a necessity that must be fueled by improved production, less waste, and more investment. Tackling rural poverty and development needs to be a key part of the agenda.