State of World Population 2001

Footprints and Milestones - Population and Environmental Change

image of State of World Population 2001

Each year since 1978, UNFPA has issued a report highlighting new developments in population. Human activity is altering the planet on an unprecedented scale, the report points out. More people are using more resources with more intensity and leaving a bigger footprint on the earth than ever before. This report examines the close links between environmental conditions, population trends and prospects for alleviating poverty in developing countries. It finds that expanding women’s opportunities and ensuring their reproductive health and rights are critically important, both to improve the well-being of growing human populations and to protect the natural world.

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Over three and a half million years ago, two of modern humanity’s ancestors left their footprints in the sand near what is now Laetoli in the United Republic of Tanzania. This couple was walking barefoot along a plain. Their people probably numbered in the hundreds or thousands and possessed very rudimentary implements. Only a remarkable chain of coincidences preserved their trail for our current inspection and wonder.

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