Prime Minister Hun Sen has acknowledged the significant increase in Cambodia’s population over the past two decades, with the tally reaching 16.8 million in 2022.

The premier affirms that Cambodia is formulating sector-specific policies to meet the demands of this population growth.

The remarks came in his public address marking the 34th World Population Day, observed on July 11 under the theme “Unleashing the Power of Gender Equality”.

The event gave voice to women and girls, exemplifying the boundless possibilities of an equal world.

In his speech, Hun Sen reflected on the UN’ prediction from November 2022 that the global population would hit 8 billion.

The rapid demographic shifts around the world call for appropriate and timely interventions by all nations, regardless of whether their populations are growing or shrinking.

“In this light, the UN urges all countries to prioritise quality over quantity, focusing on the rights and choices of people, particularly women and girls,” he asserted.

He noted two contrasting concerns related to population growth. One perspective fears the earth’s resources won’t sustain an overpopulated world, resulting in scarcity, climate change and disaster.

The alternative view worries about declining birth rates leading to fewer young people, a labour shortage and an ageing society.

In the last two decades, Cambodia’s population surged from 11.4 million in 1998 to 16.8 million in 2022, growing annually at 1.6 per cent.

In 2022, women of reproductive age constituted about 51 per cent of the population, and women aged 15-49 made up 53 per cent of all women.

“The surge in Cambodia’s population over the last two decades can be attributed to decreased mortality rates, increased life expectancy and growth momentum,” Hun Sen said.

He also highlighted that, to address these demographic changes and seize the current demographic dividends, Cambodia is striving to align policies in relevant areas appropriately and timely through its National Population Policy.

Moreover, he called on all stakeholders to collaboratively address the issue in an appropriate and effective manner to mitigate potential adverse impacts and leverage demographic dividends and future gender dividends.

He stressed that promoting gender equality is key to addressing population growth.

Poch Bunnak, secretary of state at the Ministry of Planning, expressed a keen interest in learning from past development experiences, especially in crafting population-related policies.

He pledged to continue working actively to contribute to the promotion and direction of the Cambodian people in health, education, labour force participation, gender, domestic violence and broader socio-economic welfare.