At the end of 2020, an estimated 719 million people subsisted on less than $2.15 a day. While prior to the global pandemic, huge strides had been made in reducing global poverty, we are now highly unlikely to meet the 2030 SDG goal of reducing extreme poverty.
The World Bank tracks and documents extreme poverty, which fell dramatically across the world from 1990 through 2019, the latest year for which official data are available. But progress slowed after 2014, and policymakers now confront a tougher environment: Extreme poverty is concentrated in parts of the world where it will be hardest to eradicate - in Sub-Saharan Africa, in conflict-affected areas, and in rural areas. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 60% of all people in extreme poverty—389 million, more than any other region. (By contrast, in Australia, the poverty line is $489 a week, which is 13.4% of population.)
The pandemic pushed another 70 million people into extreme poverty according to the World Bank - the largest single year increase since monitoring began in 1990. The poorest people bore the steepest costs of the pandemic: income losses averaged 4% for the poorest 40%, double the losses of the wealthiest 20% of the income distribution. Global inequality rose, as a result, for the first time in decades.
In 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member States. The 'agenda' provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future, with specific 2030 targets. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. The17 SDGs 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.
The 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world:
The United Nations is head quartered in Manhattan, New York and is made up of 193 world’s nations. António Guterres is the current United Nations Secretary-General and he describes the UN charter:
"WE WANT THE WORLD OUR CHILDREN INHERIT TO BE DEFINED BY THE VALUES ENSHRINED IN THE UN CHARTER: PEACE, JUSTICE, RESPECT, HUMAN RIGHTS, TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY."
At a personal level, never throw out what someone else can use. Make the effort to find a new home for things you don’t need. The United Nations also publishes a Lazy Person's Guide to Saving the World that you might find useful.
Governance – also from the World Bank: support policies and legislation that avoids broad subsidies, focus on long-term growth for education & development. Property taxes and carbon taxes raise revenue without hurting the poorest people. In fiscal policy, governments should act promptly on three fronts:
Half of all spending on energy subsidies in low- and middle- income economies goes to the richest 20 percent of the population who consume more energy. Cash transfers are a far more effective mechanism for supporting poor and vulnerable groups.
High-return investments in education, research and development, and infrastructure projects need to be made today. In a time of scarce resources, more efficient spending and improved preparation for the next crisis will be key.
Property taxes and carbon taxes can help raise revenue without hurting the poorest. So can broadening the base of personal and corporate income taxes. If sales and excise taxes do need to be raised, governments should minimize economic distortions and negative distributional impacts by simultaneously using targeted cash transfers to offset their effects on the most vulnerable households.