In September 2015, at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York, new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted. These SDGs address a comprehensive range of issues, from poverty, health and hunger to gender equality, climate change and energy. Some parts of the world have now re-oriented themselves toward achieving the vision of a better future by the year 2030.

The first of the 17 goals is to eliminate poverty in all its forms by 2030. Of the world population, 10 percent still live in extreme poverty. These 700 million people are often struggling to fulfil the most basic needs. Even having a job does not guarantee a decent living. In fact, 8 percent of employed workers and their families worldwide lived in extreme poverty in 2018.

Since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, reports have noted some progress. Particularly, the Sustainable Development Goals 2019 Report stresses progress in child mortality rates, an increase in people’s access to electricity, and a reduction in extreme poverty.

Even with the progress, experts warn that the global response has not been ambitious enough, leaving the most vulnerable people and countries to suffer the most.

Poverty affects children disproportionately, as one out of five children live in extreme poverty. Ensuring social protection for all children and other vulnerable groups is critical to helping reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

Governments, the private sector, and the academic community can help create an enabling environment to generate productive employment and job opportunities for the poor and the marginalized. They can work together to formulate strategies and fiscal policies that stimulate pro-poor growth, and reduce poverty.

“It is abundantly clear that a much deeper, faster and more ambitious response is needed to unleash the social and economic transformation needed to achieve our 2030 goals,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Among the key findings in the 2019 report:

  • Increasing inequality among and within countries requires urgent attention. Three- quarters of growth-stunted children live in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa; extreme poverty is three times higher in rural areas than urban areas; young people are more likely to be unemployed than adults; only a quarter of people with severe disabilities collect a disability pension; and women and girls still face barriers to achieving equality.
  • The year 2018 was the fourth warmest year on record. Levels of carbon dioxide concentrations continued to increase in 2018. Ocean acidity is 26% higher than in pre-industrial times and is projected to increase by 100% to 150% by 2100 at the current rate of CO2 emissions.
  • The number of people living in extreme poverty declined from 36% in 1990 to 8.6% in 2018, but the pace of poverty reduction is starting to decelerate as the world struggles to respond to entrenched deprivation, violent conflicts and vulnerabilities to natural disasters.
  • Global hunger has been on the rise after a prolonged decline.

What would it cost to end global poverty? To end extreme poverty worldwide in 20 years, economist Jeffrey Sachs calculated that the total cost per year would be about $175 billion. This represents less than one percent of the combined income of the richest countries in the world.

To find out more about Goal #1 and other Sustainable Development Goals visit: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment

Update provided by Len Janeski, Center on Business and Poverty