No milestone from this past year sticks out more than the news of the world's population crossing the seven billion mark.
Demographers estimate we will hit eight billion sometime in the next twelve years. No one can say exactly when or where we will cross that threshold but one thing is guaranteed: each of those next billion will be children.
While there are many things to consider about our readiness for population growth and sustainability, I also keep this question in view: What are the odds that each of those children can reach the potential they came into the world with?
Nearly half the world exists on $2 a day or less -- and half of the world's children live in poverty. In the least developed countries, about 30% of children under the age of 14 work. As a result, these children become extremely vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking. Nearly 1 million children are trafficked and enslaved each year.
So what of the next billion? Will they learn or labor? Will they be free or enslaved? Will they know trauma or recovery? Will they be shown pathways to thrive or will they be stuck, as economist Paul Collier describes as the "bottom billion"?
If you believe all lives are of equal value, writing off a generation is simply unconscionable. Their future and ours have never before been so globally and inextricably tangled. Economic and political stability, global workforce and markets, the well being of civil society -- we'll rise or fall together.
[Excerpt of article by Kristin Lindsey, CEO of The Global Fund for Children]