Facts and figures about water and demographic drivers

  • The world’s population is growing by about 80 million people a year, implying increased freshwater demand of about 64 billion cubic metres a year.
  • An estimated 90% of the 3 billion people who are expected to be added to the population by 2050 will be in developing countries, many in regions where the current population does not have sustainable access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
  • Most population growth will occur in developing countries, mainly in regions that are already in water stress and in areas with limited access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities.
  • More than 60% of the world’s population growth between 2008 and 2100 will be in sub-Saharan Africa (32%) and South Asia (30%). Together, these regions are expected to account for half of world population in 2100.
    By 2050, 22% of the world’s population is expected to be 60 years old or older, up from 10% in 2005. At the same time, nearly half the world population is under the age of 25.
  • Natural resource needs, including freshwater is expected to increase due to longer life expectances and globalization of trade and advertising tempting more consumption by young people in developed and developing countries.
  • The urban population is expected to double between 2000 and 2030 in Africa and Asia. By 2030 the towns and cities of the developing world will make up an estimated 81% of urban humanity.
  • By 2030 the number of urban dwellers is expected to be about 1.8 billion more than in 2005 and to constitute about 60% of the world’s population.
  • Today, there are an estimated 192 million migrants worldwide, up from 176 million in 2000.
  • Coastal areas, with 18 of the world’s 27 megacities (populations of 10 million or greater), are thought to face the largest migration pressures.
  • About 75% of people residing in low-lying areas are in Asia, with the most vulnerable being poor people.
  • The net implication of these demographic processes is clear; the world will have substantially more people in vulnerable urban and coastal areas in the next 20 years.
  • 95% of the increase in urban populations is expected in developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia, where the urban population is projected to double between 2000 and 2030.

The section “Did You Know…?” is taken from the 3rd World Water Development Report “Water in a Changing World“.

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