The world's population will increase by 800 million in the next decade, with the highest growth in Asia and Africa, local media reported on Friday.
"The world population stands at 6.4 billion this year. It is expected to shoot up to 7.2 billion by 2015," the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) representative to Malaysia Richard Leete was quoted as saying by The Star.
The majority of the 800 million people will be found in the southern part of Asia and Africa as well as the sub-Saharan region, the UN official said, adding that those countries with a high population growth rate are mostly under tremendous pressure in terms of sustaining their resources.
Leete said there arose the greater need to deal with social, economic and environmental issues "as one" and not separately, as they were increasingly intertwined.
With the rise of world population, the gap between the haves and have-nots is going to widen further, noted Leete, and there will be greater challenges ahead in trying to seek a balance between the environment and the social and economic sectors.
He said the main challenge today was to find the right formula to strike a balance between meeting people's need and protecting the environment.
Leete was among more than 300 participants who came to Kuching, capital of the eastern state of Sarawak, for the three-day International Media and Environment Summit 2005.