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In 1999, the Earth's population passed 6 million. It is projected to increase to over 10 billion by the year 2100. The challenge is to meet the needs and wants of these people sustainably.


Improved life expectancy

The increase in the world's population is mostly due to improvements in life expectancy and reduction in infant mortality. Better sanitation, medical care and prosperity mean that more people are surviving to an older age.

Global population

The world population is projected to increase dramatically over the next 100 years.



Click here to see the world's population growing.



Population changes for different countries

Countries and populations

Over the next decades, the population of developed regions such as the UK, Europe and North America will stay fairly stable. It may even decline slightly.

Population growth will happen more in developing countries such as India, Pakistan, China and the African continent.

These areas will need food, power and transport to support their population. They will also want to improve their standard of living to the same level as the developing nations. Sustainable development aims to provide solutions to these people's needs.

Population challenges

Population growth results in humans having an ever-increasing impact on the planet. Resources are being used more intensely and humans are leaving a bigger 'footprint' on their environment.

Water supplies may become a problem. By 2025 between 2.4 and 3.4 billion people will live in countries that are short of water. This may need solutions such as factories that produce drinking water from sea water.

Modern agricultural techniques will need to be used to provide enough food for the increasing population.

A sustainable future will need to meet the needs of an increasing population with the sustainable use of the earth's resources.


Overcrowded living conditions

Increasing populations will require sustainable development.

Picture: WHO/P.Virot