Zero extreme poverty, can we do it?
As the United Nations 68th Session opened earlier this month and the year is 2013 (soon to be 2014), a report card is being drawn up. Will we succeed in meeting the Millennium Development Goals by our 2015 deadline? Many seem optimistic that we will meet or surpass most of the benchmarks set… So citizens, journalists, NGOs, governments, and businesses are now asking, “what’s next?” What once seemed to be a lofty goal for well… ever… now seems to be reachable in just the next 15 years — “eradicating” extreme poverty. Extreme poverty refers to those living on less than $1.25 a day (previously calculated at the much catchier-sounding amount of “less than a dollar a day”).
The Data: Why do we think this is possible?
First and foremost, Target 1.A of the MDGs is to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. Drumroll, please… In 1990, the year the goal originates from, 43% of people were living on less than $1.25 a day. In 2010, it was 21% of people … mission accomplished, 5 years early. That gives the world 20 years from 21% to economically grow, technologically innovate, and globally mobilize to end extreme poverty.
The Cause: Why is this happening?
Our successes in the other MDGs are greatly contributing to the ability to raise worldwide income and standard of living. Maternal and child mortality rates are drastically dropping. Education, sanitation, and infrastructure are improving. People with HIV/AIDS are living for decades. Malaria net and medicine programs are far reaching, and a number of diseases are being eradicated. More cures are on their way and better medicines are being tested daily. Never before has the worldwide community across the NGO, government, and the private sectors mobilized together. Individuals feel as if they are global citizens with obligations. Governments recognize that working together is sometimes more effective than working alone. And corporations realize that being innovative, adaptable, and responsible actors isn’t just good for image, but is also good for business and the economy.
The Threat: Why might we fail?
Growing middle classes in places like China and India and vast growth in much of Africa are leading to these hopeful numbers. But there are many countries, often in destitute situations, mostly war stricken, and with rampant exploitation or lack of organization, that if greater attention isn’t paid to them they will be left behind as the world continues to improve — leaving our number at >zero. According to Nicholas Kristof, places like the Congo and Sudan are at risk of this if we do not direct greater attention and resources toward them. Kristof also worries that we will loose steam, that international aid will decrease, that we will stall. That is why it is important that we continue to mobilize for the next 15 years (at least until our next goal is set).
Just today this concert Global Citizens Festival (see link below) took place in NYC to raise money and awareness for this new deadline, 2030.
What are you doing to be at zero in 2030?
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