World Population Awareness Week (WPAW) was celebrated in Vermont, October 20-26, 2002. The Vermont celebration of this global campaign, initiated by the Population Media Center (PMC), addressed global population in an effort to promote greater awareness of the ramifications of overpopulation, its impact on the planet and its inhabitants, and the actions necessary to remedy the situation. The campaign focussed on "Population and the Next Generation: Youth and Adolescents."
Communication Strategies: 

During World Population Week, PMC President William Ryerson spoke at a conference on population issues held by the Science Museum of Minnesota. Simultaneously, under the sponsorship of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), a PMC team worked with the staff of three television programmes in Swaziland (the country with the second highest HIV infection rate in the world) to help them use entertainment-education methodologies to convey information on HIV/AIDS to their audiences.

Development Issues: 

Population, Youth, HIV/AIDS.

Key Points: 

Each year, WPAW is celebrated around the world. The Population Institute first conceived of WPAW in 1985 as an educational campaign designed to create public awareness of trends in world population growth. Four years later, the Population Institute expanded WPAW beyond the United States. WPAW 2002 saw the participation of 257 organisations worldwide spanning 71 countries, including the United States (where 31 governors and 276 mayors took part).

According to organisers, the world's population increases by the equivalent of a new United States, every three years. Vermont Governor Howard Dean kicked off the week in Vermont; his proclamation highlighted the following points:

  • More than one billion people - one sixth of the world's population - are between the ages of 15 and 24.
  • Nearly half the world's population, and 63% in the least developed countries, is under age 25.
  • Early pregnancy and childbearing is associated with serious health risks, as well as less education and lower future income potential for young mothers.
  • Approximately half of the 5 million people infected with HIV last year were young people aged 15-24.
  • Almost 12 million young people now live with HIV, and about 6,000 more become infected each day.
  • The choices young people make today regarding their sexual and reproductive lives, including responsible male behaviour, will determine whether world population stabilises at 8 billion or less or 9 million or more.


Partners in the Vermont WPAW are: Population Institute, PMC, UNDP.


Press release (dated October 20, 2002) sent by Kaija Helmetag to The Communication Initiative on October 8, 2002; and the WPAW page on the Population Institute site.