The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released a new report finding that empowering women and enabling them to control their fertility and reproduction are key to ensuring better environmental conditions and a decrease in global poverty. According to the report, State of World Population 2001, the world population threatens to reach 9.3 billion in 2050. Of these billions, 4.2 billion people will be without adequate resources. Already, an estimated 15 million people die annually from poor sanitation or air and water pollution. UNFPA advises that increasing women’s opportunities and providing for women’s equality and reproductive health are “critically important, both to improve the well-being of growing human populations and to protect the natural world.”
The growth in world population is projected to originate from developing countries, with the least developed countries nearly tripling in size from 668 million to 1.86 billion. The countries are the least equipped to handle population growth as many face severe environmental challenges and food shortages. UNFPA suggests that global action to reduce poverty, improve the status of women, and encourage social development are necessary to protect environmental resources and establish an adequate quality of life. The agency also encouraged more funding for global reproductive health and population programs.