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Eradicating extreme poverty

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By Achim Steiner 

This year’s theme for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty celebrates the 25-year anniversary of the creation of this international day and the idea behind it: that hunger, lack of education, and violence are not inevitable. That extreme poverty must be something we all strive to eradicate.

We have made impressive progress on eradicating poverty over the last two decades, yet despite unprecedented global wealth and human development progress, rising inequalities and persistent poverty still pose critical challenges around the world. 

One in 10 people in the world live under $1.90 a day while eight persons in the world have as much wealth as half of the world population.

The adoption of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals two years ago provide a unique opportunity to address this. The first Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 1, challenges us to eradicate poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030. 

These forms can include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. 

Agenda 2030 is a universal development agenda which, for the first time, recognises that poor people live in poor countries and rich countries alike, and that actions taken in one part of the world can have profound and far reaching consequences in another part of the world. It acknowledges that nations depend on one another and must work together to solve the world’s most critical challenges. 

Eradicating poverty requires economic growth that is inclusive and sustainable. This means stimulating the economic sectors where the poor work; investing in quality social and physical infrastructure where the poor live; and providing the minimum essential levels of basic services for health and education, access to safe water and sanitation in those areas. It also means addressing underlying drivers of civil unrest and conflict and tackling increased tensions over scarce natural resources on which the poor depend. 

For people to rise out of poverty and stay out of poverty, well-designed social protection systems can be powerful instruments to protect the most vulnerable and marginalised groups against the shocks like severe weather, pandemics, and economic crises that can push them into or back into poverty. 

On this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let us celebrate the success of many nations in pulling so many out of poverty and recommit ourselves to eradicating poverty in our generation.

(The writer is UNDP Administrator.)

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