Is a world without poverty possible?
We all know the world has reached the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day five years ahead of the 2015 deadline.
However, China, India, Brazil, Mexico and the prosperous rise of some African nations contrast with the rest of Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with close to half of its population still extremely poor.
We need to understand why close to one billion people have been left out of the process. While there are multiple reasons, there are two that require our utmost attention: exclusion and vulnerability to shocks.
To eradicate this kind of poverty we need to deal with what I call the challenge of reaching “the last mile” or the suggestion of “Getting Down to Zero.” The last mile exists both in remote rural areas, as well within cities – where the mile is figurative.
People also remain poor, or are thrown back into poverty, because of conflicts, natural disasters, or some other shocks which families and communities are just unable to cope with.
We can think of the current Ebola outbreak which will erase the gains of peace and development for a generation or more, if we don’t help. We can add the new poor in post-economic crisis Europe, where chronic unemployment and massive youth joblessness have no end in sight.
We are currently witnessing multiple refugee crises due to the conflicts. The number of newly displaced persons (both cross-border refugees and internally displaced persons) has tripled since 2010.
What we mean when we say "a world without poverty" is that we need to go beyond income poverty alone. People need decent jobs, greater access to information and knowledge, better health services, more secure livelihoods, security against crime and physical violence, political and cultural freedoms and opportunities to participate in community activities. Women need equality, minorities, respect. The planet needs protection and the world demands peace.
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:
- Building resilience through a risk-informed development
- Tackling inequalities and ensuring inclusion
- 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.
Finally, an accountability framework is needed that engages citizens and civil society. This was the spirit of the Rio Dialogues, further expanded with the My World survey, registering 7 million voices. These processes can now be reshaped to help the world hold itself to account for the commitments it will make when the Sustainable Development Goals are adopted.