The world’s population now exceeds 7.7 billion people. Our population is still growing by more than 80 million people every year and is likely to keep growing until the end of the century, unless we take action.

It took the human population until 1800 to reach 1 billion people – we now add a billion more every 12 to 15 years. Since 1970, our numbers have more than doubled.

Learn more about our numbers here.

See our latest news stories and blog posts about world population below.

Migration

Sustainability Insights

Background We live in an Age of Migration, with 244 million people, or 3.3 per cent of the world’s population, living outside their country of birth in 2015. 1 Migration, as such, is not new. Studies by paleoanthropologists suggest that, since the earliest times for which we have evidence, our human ancestors and other hominids have migrated. More recently, many significant migrations have been recorded — for example, between 1836 and 1914 more than 30 million.

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Human population history

Sustainability Insights

World population Genetic information suggests that around 70,000 years ago there was a dramatic collapse in the world human population, and it fell to very low numbers.1 Subsequently, numbers recovered and the development of agriculture and settled communities enabled populations to grow.

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Energy

Sustainability Insights

Availability of clean renewable energy is a critical issue affecting the future of humanity. It is one of the most significant constraints both on the lifestyles and on the number of people that will be sustainable in generations to come.

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Current population trends

Sustainability Insights

The future population growth of the world is difficult to predict accurately. A range of projections has been published by organizations such as the United Nations and the US Census Bureau, depending on different assumptions of birth rates and other factors affecting numbers.

 

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Contraception and lack of reproductive health

Sustainability Insights

Global perspective

Worldwide, 225 million women have an ‘unmet need’ for modern contraception. Having an unmet need is defined as wanting to stop or delay childbearing but not using any method of contraception1. 

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Climate change

Sustainability Insights

Only recently has it been possible directly to measure temperature, rainfall and the other weather variables that make up our climate. H

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Biocapacity and ecological footprint

Sustainability Insights

These two concepts were developed by the Global Footprint Network (GFN) and are quantified as global hectares (gha). They provide a common basis on which to compare the biological capability of the environment to provide food and meet other essential needs, versus the demands placed by human communities on these ecological services.

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Ageing Populations

Sustainability Insights

 

Responding to ageing populations Populations around the world are ageing as life expectancy increases and as birth rates fall. At present, the increased proportion of elderly people in the population is generally higher in developed countries than in others, but ageing is increasingly becoming a global phenomenon.

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8 October 2018

IPCC report: we need net zero by 2050

Disappointingly, the report does not call for action on population but acknowledges that high population growth is a “key impediment” to reaching climate targets.

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5 October 2018

Sir David Attenborough: we must act on population

Population Matters patron Sir David Attenborough was interviewed on the BBC’s Newsnight, where he once again spoke out about our unsustainable population growth and the urgent need to address it.

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