NEW YORK, July 11 (UPI) -- The United Nations established July 11 as World Population Day in 1989 to raise awareness about global population issues. July 11 was chosen because it was the approximate day in 1987 that the world's population reached five billion, inspiring Five Billion Day to be observed that year.
Today's world population includes 1.8 billion young people, the largest number of youth in history, and the focus of the 2014 World Population Day observing. "Investing in young people" is this year's campaign theme.
"World Population Day is an opportunity to renew our commitment to help young people unleash progress across society," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his observance message.
"Too many young people lack resources they need to lift themselves out of poverty. I am particularly concerned about adolescent girls who may face discrimination, sexual violence, early marriage and unwanted pregnancies. And even among those young people fortunate enough to receive university degrees, many find themselves without employment or stuck in low-wage, dead-end jobs.
"The solution lies in investments in health, education, training and employment for young people as they undergo the critical transition to adulthood. This will improve prospects for their lives and our common future."
In honor of World Population Day 2014, the UN released the following video and promoted awareness through social media using #WPD2014 to call for continued investment in the world's youth.
"... I call on all with influence to prioritize youth in development plans, strengthen partnerships with youth-led organizations, and involve young people in all decisions that affect them," the UN head appealed in his World Population Day message on Friday.
"By empowering today's youth, we will lay the groundwork for a more sustainable future for generations to come."