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       Within every population, the “replacement rate” is the number of children each woman

must have to maintain current population levels without contributing to excessive population

growth. Apart from this is the “total fertility rate”, which estimates the total number of children

the average woman in a population is likely to have based on current birth rates. The conflict of

overpopulation arises when total fertility rates rapidly exceed replacement rates. A variety of

socio-economic factors affect both the replacement and total fertility rates of each nation. This

can be best observed through the vast gaps between the total fertility rates of Europe and Africa.

In Europe, the average woman will have 1.2 children in her lifetime, while women in Africa are

expected to have 7.2-7.8. Nations that lack adequate economic development are unable to

provide women with access to education, birth control and employment opportunities. According

to the UN Development Program, “Women without educational opportunities for self-sufficiency

are shown to be more likely to exceed the replacement rate, leading to an increase in total

fertility and population growth.”

       Despite having the largest populations in the world, China, India and the United States of

America are not experiencing the highest fertility rates or population growth. As of 2011, 9 out

of the 10 nations with highest fertility rates are in Africa. Within these nations, life expectancy is

very low, with an average of about 56.2 years. This has led to an irruption in population growth,

in which many families have an “excess” of children because it is predicted that many of them

will not live to adulthood. When the current eruption of children and youth under the age of 18

reach reproductive age, there will be a mass influx in the world population. The current strain of

the population upon essential resources, such as accessible food and water, will only be further

depleted by population increase.
       The world population is currently 7,016,990,398 and within the next month, it is

projected to increase to nearly 7,023,000,000. Population growth in the 21st century is higher

than it has been in the last 40 years and associated urban consequences continue to escalate.

Regions that supply large amounts of water resources, such as the Colorado River Basin and

Himalayan springs, are being continually strained by the growth of urban populations in

surrounding areas. This poses the new challenges of providing jobs, housing and energy to the

current world population without contributing to urban poverty and the expansion of slums in

densely populated regions.

United Nations Involvement

       Rapid population growth was first brought to the UN in 1966, with the adoption of

A/RES/221, which examined the quality of life throughout the world and affect of

overpopulation. In 1993, a conference was held to discuss the conflict of human rights in areas

struggling with overpopulation. Many nations expressed concern that law enforcement was given

the right to act uninhibited, due to the government’s inability to manage such large scale and

widespread abuse. A/RES/47/180 expanded upon the notion of mobilizing medical technology in

highly populated areas and promoted the partnership of non-governmental organizations to do

so. This was when the global community also first began to discuss the challenge of providing

healthcare to large and densely concentrated populations. In 1995 the United Nations

Environment Program (UNEP) created the Global Environment Outlook. The program was

established to observe the direct and indirect effects that human consumption and population

growth have on the environment. Corresponding studies took 5 years and 5,000 scientists to

study ecosystems around the world. After years of collaborating and drafting conclusive reports,
the UNEP was able to trace the effects of rapid population growth to the depletion of nature and

the human quality of life.

       The UN has worked to coordinate efforts with organizations such as Greenpeace and the

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. By doing so, the UN has been able to help organize

conferences and committees that spread awareness regarding overpopulation and the loss of

natural resources. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the population has the

potential to reach 9 to 11 billion by the year 2050. This estimate is addressed in A/RES/57/226,

which calls for the eradication of hunger throughout the world. The resolution recognizes that

hunger and food insecurity have global dimensions. It also states that unless the world

acknowledges the excessive rate at which the population is expanding, food availability will

continue decrease. Many declarations, such as the Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and

the Declaration on World Food Security, have been adopted in order to increase awareness of the

poverty that contributes to hunger and malnutrition. Both of these challenges are often viewed as

a direct result of lacking resources in highly populated areas.

       In January of 2012, the UN mandated it essential to hold a conference in June of 2012 in

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to discuss urbanization and sustainable development. The proposal of this

conference displays a renewed commitment to reducing the effects of the global population upon

the environment. Secretary General of the conference Sha Zukang stated, “The world leaders

along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, civil society

organizations and other groups will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance

social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet.” By the time

the conference will be held, the world population will be around 7 billion.

Bloc Positions
        Rather than geographic, regional or political divisions, policies will be formed on nation

specific standards. Each nation’s population pyramid should determine their policy and approach

to the issue; this will include nations with low, balanced and high fertility rates.

Constrictive Pyramid: There are more elderly citizens than young, meaning that the population

is decreasing. Abundant opportunities and high living costs discourage reproduction and there is

a dwindling work force. For example, in Japan the average fertility rate is close to being below 1.

Expansive Pyramid: There are many children and few adults, meaning that the population is

irrupting. Few employment or educational opportunities for women and a high infant mortality

rate can lead to excessive births. For example, in Niger, the average fertility is above 7.

Stable Pyramid: Common to developed nations, this pyramid has relatively equal amounts of

citizens at each age group. It gradually declines towards the elderly, reflecting the natural rate of

population decline. Stable populations can be found in the United States or Western Europe.

        It is important that every nation take into account their own population pyramid however

nations may already have specific policies based upon their systems of healthcare and education.

Those with constrictive pyramids may advocate for increased fertility within their own nation,

but recognize the need for birth control and education in those with expansive pyramids. Blocs

are mainly determined by how a nation observes the current state of their own population and

formulates a solution for confronting overpopulation on a global scale.

Questions to Consider

        It is important that each delegate take into consideration any socio-economic and

religious standards that could affect policy. This can also include the total fertility rate and life

expectancy of one’s country. Many nations have population-specific policies that limit growth

within their own nation, but do not reflect the status of the entire global community. These
policies should all be taken into account as regional-specific, unless clarified by their nation as

an international solution. It is important to keep in mind that individual policies regarding

nationalized birth control or fertility may not reflect a nation’s global policy. Delegates may


1. What are the most effective and plausible means by which nations with large populations can

manage escalating fertility rates?

2. If advocating birth control, how can a government increase access and education within

densely population areas?

3. Should environmental standards be proposed for areas with extremely dense populations?

4. Do developed nations and those with stable populations hold any form of responsibility in

managing the global population?

5. Are there any education programs that could inhibit overpopulation and if so, how would they

be implemented?





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