This year marks the 27th anniversary of the declaration by the United Nations General Assembly of 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. It is a time to reflect on the great inroads that have been made to end the scourge of poverty. There has been a massive drop in global extreme poverty rates -- from 36 per cent in 1990 to 8.6 per cent in 2018 -- vastly increasing the economic and social opportunities for so many across the world.
Despite the rapid decline of extreme poverty by more than 1 billion people in the past three decades, approximately 700 million people still live on less than US $1.90 per day.
However, the international poverty line does not fully describe how people experience poverty in multiple and simultaneous ways. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) tries to capture how people experience poverty in their daily lives. For instance, MPI indicators examine whether a household has access to drinking water, sanitation facilities or electricity or whether a household member has completed five years of schooling. The MPI data shows that 1.3 billion people around the world are in fact multidimensionally poor. The MPI also starkly highlights that there are poor people living outside of poor countries, outside of poor regions and outside of poor households.
The MPI results show that children suffer poverty more intensely than adults and are more likely to be deprived in all 10 of the MPI indicators, lacking essentials such as clean water, sanitation, adequate nutrition or primary education. Even more staggering, worldwide, one in three children is multidimensionally poor, compared to one in six adults. That means that nearly half of the people living in multidimensional poverty -- 663 million -- are children, with the youngest children bearing the greatest burden.
Therefore, the theme for this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is pertinent as it focuses on “Acting Together to Empower Children, their Families and Communities to End Poverty”. Effective policies and strategies to prevent and eradicate child poverty must consider families and communities as the nucleus of action to break cycles of intergenerational poverty. Protecting the human rights of children is also fundamental -- including the right to be protected against all forms of abuse and violence. In this respect, 2019 also marks the 30th Anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child -- a landmark human rights treaty which protects the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child regardless of their race, gender, religion or abilities.
Today, I would like to particularly recognize and commend the UNICEF’s vital work to save children’s lives; to defend their rights; and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will continue to be a close partner of UNICEF – particularly as we work together to eradicate poverty in all its forms, everywhere by the year 2030.