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Cheers and fears as world population hits 7 billionBy
Published : Oct. 31, 2011 - 11:51
MANILA (AFP) - Asia welcomed the world's first symbolic "seven billionth" baby on Monday, but celebrations were tempered by worries over the strain that humanity's population explosion is putting on a fragile planet.
The United Nations says that by its best estimates the seven billionth baby will be born somewhere on October 31, and countries around the world have planned events surrounding the demographic milestone.
Zambia is throwing a seven billion song contest; Vietnam is staging a "7B: Counting On Each Other" concert; Russian authorities are showering gifts on selected newborns and the Ivory Coast is putting on a comedy show.
The Philippines was the first country to declare a seven billionth baby, in the form of a little girl called Danica May Camacho.
Weighing 2.5 kilos (5.5 pounds), Danica was delivered just before midnight Sunday under an explosion of media camera flashes at Manila's Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital.
"She looks so lovely," the mother, Camille Dalura, whispered as she cradled her baby girl.
"I can't believe she is the world's seven billionth."
Danica is the second child for Dalura and her partner, Florante Camacho, who stood quietly in a corner wearing a white hospital gown as television crews and photographers crowded to get a shot of his daughter.
UN officials presented the child with a cake. Other gifts came from local benefactors including a scholarship grant, and a financial package to help the parents open a general store.
Also on hand to witness the birth was 12-year-old Lorrize Mae Guevarra, who the Philippines declared as its own six billionth baby when the world reached that demographic landmark in 1999.
"I am very happy to see this cute baby. I hope like me she will grow up to become healthy and well loved by everyone," Guevarra said.
The UN named a Bosnian child, Adnan Mevic, as the Earth's six billionth inhabitant on October 12, 1999. The secretary general at the time, Kofi Annan, was pictured in a Sarajevo hospital with Mevic in his arms.
The Mevic family is now living in poverty, which is partly why no single baby will be put in the global spotlight this time. Instead Danica May Camacho is one of a number of children whose birth will be marked throughout the day.
The world has added a billion babies -- or almost another China -- since Adnan Mevic was born. Having taken millennia to pass the one-billion mark, the world's population has now doubled in 50 years.
Mounting concern over humanity's environmental impact and fears we may not be able to feed ourselves in 100 years' time have cast a cautionary tone over the buildup to the seven billion milestone.
Current UN chief Ban Ki-moon will not be seen cuddling a newborn. He has said the seven billionth baby will be entering a "world of contradiction", especially if the child is born on the wrong side of the poverty line.
"Plenty of food, but still a billion people going to bed hungry every night. Many people enjoy luxurious lifestyles, but still many people are impoverished," he said in an interview with Time magazine.
Addressing students at a New York school last week, he said: "This is not a story about numbers. This is a story about people."
"Seven billion people who need enough food. Enough energy. Good opportunities in life for jobs and education. Rights and freedoms. The freedom to speak. The freedom to raise their own children in peace and security.
"Everything you want for yourself -- seven billion times over," he said.
The UN chief will be taking his message to the Group of 20 summit this week, where leaders of rich and developing nations will discuss the threat of global recession and efforts to tighten rules on bankers' bonuses and tax havens.
With about two babies being born every second, the seven billion figure will keep racing ahead in decades to come -- to more than 10 billion by 2100, according to UN estimates.
The UN predicts that India will overtake China as the world's most populous nation by 2025, when it will have almost 1.5 billion people.
A new UN Population Fund (UNFPA) report highlights how the world will face growing problems finding jobs for the new army of young people, especially in poor countries.
It also sounds alarms over how climate change and population growth are adding to drought and famine crises; the management of megacities like Tokyo; and ageing populations such as Europe's.
"This is not a matter of space -- it's a matter of equity, opportunity and social justice," UNFPA executive director Babatunde Osotimehin said.
세계인구 70억…"우리 아이가 주인공" 각국 들썩
세계 인구 70억명 시대를 맞아 각국이 '70억명째 아기'의 탄생을 축하하며 축제 분위기를 만끽하고 있지만 일각에서는 식량부족과 환경파 괴 등 인구 증가에 따른 각종 사회 문제를 우려하는 목소리가 작지 않다.
30일(현지시각) 필리핀 마닐라에서 2.5kg의 여자아기인 다니카 마이 카마초가 출생한 직후 언론을 통해 소식을 접한 필리핀인들은 일제히 환호했다.
유엔이 31일 70억명째 인류의 탄생을 예상한 가운데 다니카는 30일 오후 11시58 분 세상의 빛을 봤고, 필리핀 정부는 다니카를 세계 인구 70억명 기록의 주인공으로 선포했다.
유엔은 다니카의 부모에게 케이크를 전달하며 아기의 탄생을 축하했고, 필리핀 각지에서도 아기의 장학금과 생활지원대책을 마련해주겠다는 제안이 줄을 이었다.
방글라데시 정부도 31일 0시1분 수도 다카에서 태어난 오이쉬라는 이름의 여자 아이를 '70억번째 아기'로 선포했다.
베트남과 잠비아는 세계 인구 70억명 돌파를 축하할 콘서트를 계획 중이고, 러 시아와 파푸아뉴기니 등은 산모와 아기들을 위한 선물을 준비했다.
캄보디아, 인도, 라오스, 몰디브 등의 다른 나라들도 자국이 상징적으로 '70억 번째 아기'로 선포할 새 생명의 탄생을 기다렸다.
그러나 일각에서는 70억명이라는 숫자에 대해 근심 어린 눈길을 보내고 있다.
인구 증가에 따른 환경파괴나 삶의 질 저하에 대한 대책이 마련되지 않았고, 가 난과 식량부족으로 고통받는 인구도 적지 않다는 점이 바로 '70억 인구'라는 이정표 를 마냥 기쁘게 바라볼 수 없는 이유다.
불과 12년 전인 지난 1999년 '60억명째 아기'로 지구촌 유명인사가 됐던 보스니 아 태생의 남자아이가 여전히 가난에 허덕이며 살고 있는 실상도 이런 우려에 무게 를 더하고 있다.
중국에 이어 세계 2위 '인구 대국'인 인도의 굴람 나비 아자드 보건장관은 70억 번째 아기의 탄생이 "기쁨이 아니라 큰 걱정"이라며 전 세계가 기뻐할 수 있는 순간 은 바로 인구가 안정됐을 때라고 강조했다.
반기문 유엔 사무총장도 70억명째 아기는 "모순된 세상에 태어나는 것"이라며 "
식량이 풍부하다지만 여전히 10억명은 매일 밤 굶주린 채 잠들고, 많은 이들이 호화 로운 삶을 즐기지만 다른 많은 사람은 가난하게 지낸다"고 지적했다.
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