Ending Poverty by 2030
The world has seen remarkable progress in poverty reduction over the last 30 years, with more than 1 billion people escaping from poverty. However, eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions remains the greatest global challenge of our time. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, global poverty is increasing for the first time since 1998 while the international community continues to face enormous obstacles such as lasting conflicts, climate change, and increasing inequality. Current projections indicate that the goal of Ending Poverty by 2030 (SDG 1) is likely to be missed.
Where do we stand today?
Recent achievements in poverty reduction have not extended to all countries or to all people equally. In 2021, up to 711 million people are estimated to live in extreme poverty (below 1.90 USD per day). Up to 97 million people were pushed or kept in poverty due to the consequences of the pandemic in 2020 alone and these numbers are expected to increase further. Taking into account aspects such as education, health and living standards, there are about 1.3 billion people living in so-called multidimensional poverty. This number increased by up to 490 million people due to the Covid-19 pandemic, representing a loss of 7 years of progress. Poverty is particularly concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa, where more than half of the global poor are located. Three-quarters of countries in this region have poverty rates above 18%. In several African countries, the rate of poverty reduction is too slow, and in some cases poverty has increased. More dramatically, current projections indicate that by 2030, up to 87% of the extreme poor will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. In contrast, the so-called “new poor” caused by the Covid-19 pandemic reside predominantly in South Asia.
Certain population groups are disproportionally affected by poverty and are often especially vulnerable: this includes women and children, people with disabilities, indigenous people, refugees and migrants and other minorities. The importance of addressing systematic forms of discrimination, inequality and exclusion is recognised in the 2030 Agenda through the principle of ‘leave no one behind’ (LNOB).
For the first time since 1998, global poverty increased in 2020. Many populous middle-income countries have achieved great success in reducing global poverty before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. However, the continuation of the pre-covid trend will now depend upon the progress of fewer countries. Slow economic growth, high inequality, population growth, conflicts, weak institutions and the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic are among the main challenges on the path to a world without poverty. The importance of these factors is illustrated by the projection that by 2030 up to 85% of the global poor will be living in fragile states.
What can be done?
In order to set-up efficient strategies to reduce poverty, it is essential to identify where the poor are living and what conditions they are living in. Poverty reduction must respond to country- and context-specific circumstances. For instance, measures in the least-developed countries must be designed differently to those in middle-income-countries. Likewise, urban poverty has different characteristics and may require different approaches than rural poverty.
To prohib an increase of global poverty in times of the covid-19 crisis, urgent action must be taken while continued efforts to improve governance, infrastructure and access to basic social services like health and education must be upheld. Additionally, the coverage and quality of social security systems must be increased to secure vulnerable groups against current and future crisis. Moreover, promoting peace and cohesion, fighting climate change, investing in climate adaption and mitigation and reducing inequalities, systemic discrimination and inclusion must be at the forefront of poverty reduction.