Cambodia's population growth rate in the past two decades has remained roughly 40-50 per cent faster than the global average, as the UN projects that eight billion people will live on the Earth in November this year, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Hun Sen made the remark in a letter celebrating the 33th World Population Day, held with the theme of “A World of eight billion people towards a resilient future to seize a chance to ensure rights for all”.

“The UN projected that the numbers of the global population will rise to eight billion in November this year, meaning the world has made incredible strides in reducing poverty and improving healthcare. Maternity and infant mortality rates are declining and people are living longer and healthier lives,” he said.

He added that according to the UN, the Earth’s population had risen at a rate of one per cent a year, while Cambodia had grown at 1.4 per cent each year from 2008 through 2019.

Citing the latest general census, the premier said the Cambodian population was 15.6 million in 2019 – an annual growth rate of 1.4 per cent when measured against the 2008 census result of 13.4 million. Earlier growth had been even higher, running at 1.5 per cent from 1998.

“The increase in the number of the Cambodian people over the last two decades was attributed to declining mortality rates and a rise in life expectancy. The census shows a remarkable decrease in maternity mortality rate, from 410 persons per 100,000 births in 2008 to 170 in 2014 and just 141 in 2019,” it said.

The live expectancies of the Cambodian people had also risen steadily. In 1998, the figures were 54 years for men and 58 for women. By 2008, the figures were 61 and 64. Evidence of vast improvements to the nation was evidenced by 2019’s figures – 74.3 years for men and 76.8 for women.

Hun Sen said these successes came from joint efforts by the government and its partner organisations to improve and develop the public health sector. In addition, Cambodia had a unique population where 36 per cent of the population was of reproductive ages, 20 to 36 years old.

“When we consider a forum of 8,000 million people, we have to remind the world that humanity is not separated when the number of members increases or decreases. Every individual must share their ingenuity, kindness, leadership, labour, creativity and hearts with every other member of the global family,” he said.

He said that issues associated with such a high population would need to be dealt with through the timely introduction of carefully crafted policies and measures to mitigate negative impacts, adding that Cambodia is still on track to become an upper-middle income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.