Can We Make Zero Poverty World or Not?
Despite the on-trend rhetoric and optimism, the chances of (all but) ending absolute poverty in our generation are slim. The chances of ending poverty altogether are zero. The closer we get to ending extreme poverty, the harder it is going to be to do it. We're going to have to pretty much end violent conflict, experience a Damascene climate conversion, sustain high rates of economic growth, avoid any recession in poor countries and make sure nobody who is disabled or seriously ill sees their income drop to less than $1.25 a day.
It would potentially cost some of the world's biggest businesses billions of dollars and need to be agreed by a group of world leaders who, if they all went out to dinner, would be sat around the table with their calculators out arguing about how to split the bill. It would mean that for the first time, everyone in the world would able to afford a refrigerator and other goods that would make life a bit easier.
Firstly, there's been a great deal of progress already.
The poverty rate in the developing world has more than halved since 1981. Back then, 52% of people in developing countries lived on less than $1.25 (84p) per day. That's now dropped to 15%. In terms of the UN's Millennium Development Goals, it meant that the target of halving poverty by 2015 from 1990 levels was achieved five years early. In 1990, more than one-third (36%) of the world's population lived in abject poverty. That was halved to 18% in 2010.
For China, which has accounted for the bulk of the poverty reduction in the past few decades, the answer is economic growth. But, it was due largely to China. So, there is still about a billion people who live in extreme poverty. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where the number of poor people has increased during the past three decades.
This is the message that has emerged, loud and clear, from the global conversation on the post-2015 development agenda.
In order to get to a world without poverty where development aspirations are met three actions are necessary:
1. Building resilience through a risk-informed development
2. Tackling inequalities and ensuring inclusion
3. Ensuring sustainability and job-rich growth
As tools to reduce poverty, each country will have to develop a policy pathway, identifying the most appropriate sequence of interventions and investments, given its level of development, endowments, and aspirations. Countries need to consider how the broader international public finance will help mobilize private resources.
Author: Normunds Lokenbahs / LatConsul