Globally, we have seen a decline in poverty from 36 per cent in 1990 to 10 per cent in 2015. An incredible effort that has seen a decrease in pace, and with the COVID-19 crises risking reversing decades of progress in the fight. New research published by the UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research warns that the economic fallout from the global pandemic could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion people, or 8% of the total human population. This would be the first time that it has increased globally in thirty years, since 1990.
More than 700 million people, or 10 per cent of the world population, still live in extreme poverty today, struggling to fulfil the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few. The majority of people living on less than $1.90 a day live in sub-Saharan Africa. Worldwide, the poverty rate in rural areas is 17.2 per cent — more than three times higher than in urban areas.
For those who work, having a job does not guarantee a decent living. In fact, 8 per cent of employed workers and their families worldwide lived in extreme poverty in 2018. One out of five children live in extreme poverty. Ensuring social protection for all children and other vulnerable groups is critical to reduce poverty.
Sustainable Development Goals
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member states in 2015, an agenda that provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an urgent call for action by all countries — developed and developing — in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth — all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. Learn more about the UN SDG’s.
What is the goal?
To end poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030
In 2015, more than 700 million people, or 10 per cent of the world population, lived in extreme poverty, struggling to fulfill the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is reversing the trend, reduction with tens of millions of people in risk of being pushed back into extreme poverty — people living on less than $1.90/day — causing the first increase in global poverty in more than 20 years.
Even before COVID-19, baseline projections suggested that 6 per cent of the global population would still be living in extreme poverty in 2030, missing the target of ending poverty.
Developing countries will face a devastating social and economic crisis over the months and years to come, with the pandemic pushing millions of workers into unemployment and underemployment.
Having a job also does not guarantee a decent living. In fact, 7.1 per cent of employed workers and their families worldwide lived in extreme poverty in 2019, a positive decline compared to 2010, but the number is expected to rise in light of the long-term consequences of the pandemic.
Why is there so much poverty in the world?
It has many dimensions, but its causes include unemployment, social exclusion, and high vulnerability of certain populations to disasters, diseases and other phenomena which prevent them from being productive.
Why should I care about other people’s economic situation?
There are many reasons, but in short, because as human beings, our well being is linked to each other. Growing inequality is detrimental to economic growth and undermines social cohesion, increasing political and social tensions and, in some circumstances, driving instability and conflicts.
Why is social protection so important?
The COVID-19 pandemic will have both immediate and long-term economic consequences for people across the globe. Strong social protection systems are essential for mitigating the effects and preventing many people from falling into poverty. Nevertheless, 55 per cent of the world’s population — about 4 billion people — did not benefit from any form of social protection in 2016. Only 22 per cent of unemployed workers were covered by unemployment benefits.
So what can I do about it?
Your active engagement in policy making can make a difference in addressing it. It ensures that your rights are promoted and that your voice is heard, that inter-generational knowledge is shared, and that innovation and critical thinking are encouraged at all ages to support transformational change in people’s lives and communities.
Governments can help create an enabling environment to generate productive employment and job opportunities for the poor and the marginalized.
The private sector has a major role to play in determining whether the growth it creates is inclusive and contributes to poverty reduction. It can promote economic opportunities for the poor.
The contribution of science to end poverty has been significant. For example, it has enabled access to safe drinking water, reduced deaths caused by water-borne diseases, and improved hygiene to reduce health risks related to unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation.
To find out more about Goal 1 and other Sustainable Development Goals visit: un.org/sustainabledevelopment
(United Nations why it matters)
Facts and Figures
- According to the most recent estimates, in 2015, 10 percent of the world’s population or 734 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day.
- Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are expected to see the largest increases in extreme poverty, with an additional 32 million and 26 million people, respectively, living below the international poverty line as a result of the pandemic.
- The share of the world’s workers living in extreme poverty fell by half over the last decade: from 14.3 per cent in 2010 to 7.1 per cent in 2019.
- Even before COVID-19, baseline projections suggested that 6 per cent of the global population would still be living in extreme poverty in 2030, missing the target of ending poverty. The fallout from the pandemic threatens to push over 70 million people into extreme poverty.
- One out of five children live in extreme poverty, and the negative effects of poverty and deprivation in the early years have ramifications that can last a lifetime.
- In 2016, 55 per cent of the world’s population — about 4 billion people — did not benefit from any form of social protection