UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. population agency said Wednesday the world population will top the 5 billion mark in July and proposed marking the occasion with serious planning for the next billion people expected to be born before the year 2000.
Addressing a meeting of the U.N. Population Commission, Rafael Salas, executive director of the U.N. Fund for Population Activities, proposed July 11 be designated as 'The Day of Five Billion,' the approximate date when world population surpasses 5 billion.
'The birth of the 5 billionth baby during 1987 is a time for celebration,' he said. 'But it also demands the serious attention of the world community. What kind of world will it be when the 5 billionth child grows up and when there will be 6 billion people on our planet?'
Salas invited governments, private organizations and individuals to mark July 11 with 'sober reflection on the future' that he said will bring a population of 6 billion before 2000.
Salas said it took 13 years to add the fifth billion to the earth's inhabitants. Some 220,000 babies are born every day, 80 million every year, 90 per cent of them in the developing countries, he said.
Salas said his fund asked the Japanese watch manufacturer Seiko to produce a 'population clock' showing world and national populations, which will be presented to each head of state in connection with the July 11 observances.
The Washington-based Population Institute has estimated the world already has 5 billion inhabitants, but U.N. population experts say the Population Institute jumped the gun.