Page last updated at 00:14 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 01:14 UK

UN calls for more family planning

By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News, Geneva

Kashmiri women wait outside the only maternity hospital in Srinagar, India, 10 July 2008
Hundreds of thousands of women die in childbirth each year

The United Nations is calling for more investment in family planning to reduce poverty, slow population growth and ease pressure on the environment.

In a report marking World Population Day, the UN estimates that the number of people on the planet will grow from 6.7bn to 9.2bn by the year 2050.

That means greater demand for food, water and fuel.

Such growth is unsustainable, the UN says, as climate change degrades arable land and reduces water supplies.

The hard truth is, the UN adds, the world does not even want so many new people. More than 200 million women, many in the developing world, do not have access to contraceptives.

Hundreds of thousands of women die in childbirth each year or from botched illegal abortions and women are crucial to the world's food production - in Africa and Asia they grow over 80% of crops.

Access to contraceptives would give women the chance to plan their families and the resulting slower population growth would, the UN says, ease pressure on food supplies and reduce damage to the environment.

Providing family planning to all those who want it will cost $1.2bn a year, but the UN says at the moment less than half that is being spent.

Population control 'needs debate'
13 Nov 07 |  UK Politics
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07 May 07 |  Asia-Pacific

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