Scenario planning has a long history – the RAND Corporation employed it heavily in planning for potential U.S. responses to nuclear war and 16th century Spanish Jesuit theologians pointed to the idea as proof of free will – but in many respects this powerful set of methodological tools for managing complexity and uncertainty remains underused, especially beyond the defense, intelligence, and business communities.
›October 17, 2013 // By Wilson Center Staff
Today approximately 44 percent of the world’s 7.2 billion people are under 24 years old – and 26 percent are under 14. Of those 7.2 billion people, a staggering 82 percent live in less developed regions of the world – primarily sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Currently, the global median age is 29.2 years old, a sharp contrast to Europe, for example, where the median age is 41.
›August 7, 2013 // By Elizabeth Leahy Madsen
In a recent post on the new United Nations population projections, I discussed the risk in assuming that countries in sub-Saharan Africa will progress through the demographic transition at a pace similar to other regions. Making this assumption is questionable because fertility decline in Africa has generally proceeded more slowly than in other parts of the world, with several cases of “stalls” and even small fertility increases over time.
›June 26, 2013 // By Elizabeth Leahy Madsen
October 31, 2011, was notable not only for the annual ritual of candy and costumes, but also for its designation by the United Nations as the date when global population reached seven billion. Although just an estimate – demographers are not able to count individuals in real time on such a large scale – the event was an important opportunity to present population trends to the media and public dialogue. Several babies born that day were named the “seven billionth;” in Russia, where various incentives have been implemented to try to boost an ultra-low fertility rate, Vladimir Putin visited a maternity ward to greet one of them.
Sub-Saharan Africa is perhaps the riskiest place for a woman to give birth. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), African women comprise approximately 56 percent of the maternal deaths and 91 percent of HIV-related maternal deaths worldwide every year. In order to bring life into this world, women in Africa literally must put their own lives on the line.
›May 8, 2012 // By Elizabeth Leahy Madsen
The pace of fertility decline in sub-Saharan Africa will be the single most important factor in whether the global population reaches the UN’s high projection of nearly 11 billion in 2050, or remains closer to the low projection of 8 billion. In recent years, the high projection has seemed more likely, as sub-Saharan Africa has been marked by stalled fertility declines and stagnant rates of contraceptive use. Survey results released over the past year showing dramatic increases in contraceptive use in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Rwanda therefore set demographers and the family planning community abuzz, signaling that concerted efforts to improve health services had paid off and fertility rates were on the decline. But in recent months, additional surveys from Mozambique, Uganda, and Zimbabwe have shown that those positive trends are not universal.
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