The UN has nominated 31 October 2011 as the day the world’s population officially reaches 7 billion.

The world’s population is growing astonishingly fast – adding another billion people in a little over a decade. Is this a triumph of human ingenuity or a recipe for global disaster? Now, with 7 billion mouths to feed – and many more to come - how will our cities, economies, health systems and natural environments cope? What new pressures will Australia face and how will it be changed? In this special website, the University of New South Wales presents guidance and food for thought from some of its many independent academic experts, with a focus on Australia.


What sort of world will our children and grandchildren inherit? Explore this site to consider what it really means for Australia to be part of a growing global population. Click through for more detailed videos and stories from our experts.


In the rich world our burgeoning population presents myriad risks to our health – mainly associated with living longer. In the developing world, a child dies every three seconds. Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite explores this dichotomy.

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On the vexed issue of water supplies, environmental scientist Professor Richard Kingsford says every major Australia city already has concerns about water shortages. The future challenge will be to do more with less water across urban and rural Australia.

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We’re predominantly a nation of urban dwellers. Only six percent of our total land mass is arable. Filling our food bowls in the future means looking closer to home for food sources, says human geographer Dr Alec Thornton.

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Professor John Piggott warns that it’s time for Australia to prepare for the problems many countries face with an ageing population.

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Sustainable energy expert Dr Richard Corkish believes Australia has much to offer a more populous world, that is increasingly hungry for energy, but threatened by climate change.

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Business Law expert Michael Peters explores the critical role that law will play in ensuring fair access to services and property in a more populous world.

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Climate scientist Professor Steven Sherwood says humanity is conducting an unprecedented experiment by polluting their atomsphere with vast quantities of greenhouse gases.

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