Population 2030: Demographic challenges and opportunities for sustainable development planning

Sustainable development Conservation Population forecasting


The Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the United Nations Secretariat is responsible for providing the international community with up-to-date and scientifically objective information on population and development. The Population Division provides guidance on population and development issues to the United Nations General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Commission on Population and Development and undertakes regular studies on population estimates and projections, fertility, mortality, migration, reproductive health, population policies and population and development interrelationships.

This paper reports on research undertaken to draft the report of the Secretary-General on “Integrating population issues into sustainable development, including in the post-2015 development agenda” (E/CN.9/2015/3*), presented at the 48th session of the Commission on Population and Development, 13- 17 April 2015.

This paper examines, at greater length than the Secretary-General’s report, the United Nations’ latest population projections for countries and regions for the period 2015-2030—the implementation period of the 2030 Agenda—in order to identify the coming challenges to and opportunities for sustainable development associated with demographic trends over the near-term.

Drawing on the 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects, it discusses the projected numbers of births, children of primary-school age, adolescents and youth, women of reproductive age, older persons and urban dwellers. By considering these demographic trends within the context of each country’s existing capacity to meet the needs of its population, as assessed primarily through progress achieved towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets, this report identifies where efforts must be intensified to expand basic services to growing numbers of people, as well as where population factors are likely to present opportunities to accelerate development progress.

Moreover, this paper compares recent population growth to trends in carbon emissions in energy use in order to understand the implications of demographic trends for environmental sustainability.

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