Yesterday on October 31st the world's population officially hit seven billion. Seven is a suggestive figure. In many cultures it is lucky -- in France, for instance, a cat has seven lives. Shakespeare said there were "seven ages of man" and seven is apparently the ideal number of hours of sleep a person needs. In this case though, the vast growth in world population begs questions about resources and the future of our planet.
In 1959, when I was born, the earth supported 3 billion people, but extraordinarily, that number has more than doubled in the past fifty years. Half of those people survive on less than $2 per day. Seven billion is a milestone, not an end point, and the UN expects 8 billion by 2025 with substantial growth continuing after that. It is vital that we start to consider how we will sustain such a swift increase.
To mark this day we have compiled seven sets of facts about the world. Some are predictable but you will find a few surprises too.
1. Seven richest countries by GDP (IMF estimates for 2011)
2. World's seven fastest growing economies
3. Seven richest countries based on purchasing-power-parity per capita GDP (IMF figures for 2010)
United States $46,860.242
4. Seven best countries to do business (World Bank Doing Business Index)
5. Seven most innovative countries in 2011 (INSEAD)
6. Seven worst countries to live in (UN 2010 rankings)
Democratic Republic of Congo
7. Seven best countries to live in (UN 2010 rankings)
The most important question now is how to guarantee that 7, 8 and very soon 10 billion people will be able to feed themselves. This will be the main topic and mission of the Global Food Security Forum that we are organizing with OCP Group and THE BCG Group in Morocco in March 2012.
It is more than ever time for concrete initiatives about what I think will be the most urgent issue to address in the near future.