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On May 3, the United Nations Population Division announced the most recent world population projections, predicting that our planet will reach 7 billion people [PDF] by late this year. This milestone, slated to occur around October 31, 2011, presents an opportunity to reflect on our efforts to support healthy families and a healthy environment in the past, and also to think about future opportunities to slow population growth by increasing access to voluntary family planning, education and economic opportunities for women and girls, and sustainable development solutions around the world.
 
The Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program spent a week in April touring with International Youth Activist Daisy Magaña from Belize, discussing the 7 billion mark and how it relates to population, reproductive health, and the environment. You can read about Daisy's incredible work with young people in rural Belize here.
 
This summer, we will be working with the Sierra Student Coaltion to mobilize young people around the integration of these important issues, and in October, we'll bring 50 youth to Washington, DC to learn, strategize, and educate decision-makers on Capitol Hill about the need for increased international family planning funding and sound environmental policies.
 
It took a mere 12 years to grow from a population of 6 to 7 billion - but rapid population growth and unsustainable consumption aren't inevitable. Taking steps today - like ensuring access to contraceptives for women and families, reducing our consumption and waste here in the United States, and promoting United States' support for integrated population, health, and environment programming around the world - will help make our planet at 7 billion a happier, healthier place.
 
Learn how to take action and get involved at www.sierraclub.org/population.

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The Global Population and Environment Program's mission is to protect the global environment and preserve natural resources for future generations by advancing global reproductive health and sustainable development initiatives.

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