The expert group meeting on the review of SDG 1, themed ‘Ending Poverty: The Road to 2030,’ focused on building on successful approaches and possible solutions to emerging challenges.
A background note, titled ‘2017 HLPF Thematic Review of SDG 1: End Poverty in All its Forms Everywhere,’ reveals a shift in global poverty distribution from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and low-income countries (LICs) to middle-income countries (MICs), mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
The background note makes a number of recommendations for ending poverty, while pointing out that there is “no silver bullet”.
The issue of poverty eradication is being featured in the deliberations of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The HLPF, convening under theme, ‘Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world,’ is reviewing progress on seven Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), inclusive of SDG 1, which seeks to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.” The ECOSOC High-level Segment theme, selected to align with the HLPF theme, is ‘Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions through promoting sustainable development, expanding opportunities and addressing related challenges.’ A joint Ministerial Declaration that the HLPF and the ECOSOC High-level Segment is expected to be adopted on 19 and 20 July 2017, respectively.
EGM on SDG 1 Review
In preparation for the 2017 reviews of the SDGs under consideration by the HLPF this year, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), with UN partners, held a series of expert group meetings (EGMs). Organized by DESA, the World Bank and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the EGM on the review of SDG 1, themed ‘Ending Poverty: The Road to 2030,’ convened in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 11-12 May 2017. Deliberations focused on building on progress and successful approaches, and possible solutions for emerging challenges and barriers to progress. Placing interlinked considerations at the forefront of the discussions, the EGM highlighted the need to:
- promote inclusive and sustainable growth through reducing inequalities, boosting human capital, improving connectivity to markets, promoting decent jobs, promoting good governance and protecting the vulnerable from “shocks”;
- invest in people, including health, nutrition and education, complementing this with investments in infrastructure and universal access to basic services; and
- promote resilience, by, for instance, providing social protection, safety nets, and strong and stable institutions, and ensuring complementarity between development and humanitarian efforts.
The meeting identified three cross-cutting issues, also relevant for other SDGs:
- improving the use of evidence through making evidence-based decisions, and strengthening efforts to close data gaps, use disaggregated and other types of data, and build capacity;
- using multi-pronged financing strategies that are embedded in institutions, have strong ownership, leadership and vision, and are predictable and sustainable; and
- building on stronger, more inclusive and diverse partnerships, such as creative insurance mechanisms in agriculture that could leverage government, private sector and civil society resources.
EGM outcomes feed into the HLPF’s in-depth review of SDG 1.
HLPF Review of SDG 1
According to the 2017 report of the UN Secretary-General, titled ‘Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals’ (E/2017/66), which informs the Forum’s discussions, the global poverty rate has been halved since 2000. The report notes, however, that further efforts are required to boost incomes, alleviate suffering and build resilience for individuals still living in extreme poverty, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa. It also calls for social protection systems to be expanded and for risks to be mitigated for disaster-prone countries, which also tend to be among the most impoverished.
In preparation for the HLPF’s in-depth review of SDG 1, the UN Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs (ECESA) issued a background note, titled ‘2017 HLPF Thematic Review of SDG 1: End Poverty in All its Forms Everywhere,’ which provides a detailed analysis of the status of SDG 1 implementation, addresses interlinkages and offers recommendations on the way forward. The UNDP and the International Labour Organization (ILO) co-led, and numerous UN agencies contributed to, the preparation of the document.
While nearly 1.1 billion people globally escaped poverty from 1990-2013, extreme poverty remains “unacceptably high,” with almost 800 million living on or below US$1.90 per day.
On the status of progress on SDG 1, the background note indicates that, while nearly 1.1 billion people globally escaped poverty from 1990-2013, extreme poverty remains “unacceptably high,” with almost 800 million living on or below US$1.90 per day. The background note also shows that 1.6 billion people still live in “multidimensional poverty,” whereby their access to adequate education, healthcare, electricity and safe drinking water, among other basic services, is determined by socioeconomic status, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and geographic location.
The note reveals a shift in the global poverty distribution from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and low-income countries (LICs) to middle-income countries (MICs), mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. It singles out two groups of people that are particularly at risk: those living in “pockets” of extreme poverty, primarily found in MICs; and those living in particularly poor countries. The document notes that economic growth alone will not help those living in extreme poverty to move out, and identifies creating jobs for the expanding labor force as “an important challenge.”
On interlinkages and implications for policy making and implementation to realize SDG 1, the background note states that poverty eradication can only be achieved through addressing interconnected factors such as: inclusive growth; livelihoods and decent work; social protection; access to basic infrastructure and services; food security; nutrition; health; education; empowerment of women and girls; environmental sustainability; governance; and more equitable access to opportunities and distribution of income and wealth. The note calls for concerted effort on:
- Preventing and reducing vulnerability to conflict, natural disasters and economic downturns that send poor households into a downward spiral through innovative, holistic, gender-responsive and conflict-sensitive solutions;
- Curbing inequalities and exclusion that leave segments of society stuck in poverty by addressing the gap between the rich and the poor, inequality of opportunities in access to basic services such as health and education, and gender inequality;
- Supporting effective governance that ensures that all citizens have a voice, particularly those “left behind” by “rooting poverty eradication in the principle of inclusion and the recognition of poor and other excluded groups as agents of their own development”;
- Enabling governments to generate inclusive, sustainable and sustained growth through international trade and foreign direct investment that can contribute to poverty reduction by creating job opportunities, enhancing productivity, lowering domestic prices and transferring technology; and
- Helping countries halt environmental degradation that causes and aggravates deprivation and increases the risks of setbacks by placing environmental sustainability at the center of policy making, bearing in mind that 70% of the world’s extreme poor largely depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, and 40% of the world’s degraded land is found in areas with the highest incidence of poverty.
While noting that there is “no silver bullet” and that solutions must be tailored to each country’s context, the background note makes a number of recommendations regarding strategies to end poverty. It calls for countries to:
- Grow their economies in an inclusive way, guaranteeing the rights to work and to just and favorable conditions of work to enable people to rise and stay out of poverty;
- Invest in people and commit to providing “minimum essential levels” of basic health and education services, access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and quality social and physical infrastructure; and
- Provide social protection floors to the poor and vulnerable, protecting them from shocks that can exacerbate their poverty, including severe weather, pandemics, food price variability and economic crises.
The background note warns that, in order to make poverty reduction more effective, countries need to meet a number of “preconditions,” such as: finding pathways out of conflict; mitigating climate risks; eliminating discriminatory laws and policies; and empowering women and girls. The note also highlights the need to, inter alia: address the special needs of LDCs, landlocked developing States (LLDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS); combat inequality and equalize opportunities for all; focus on areas with the greatest potential to address different forms and dimensions of poverty; accord children priority and close the gender gap in labor force participation; and promote an inclusive rural transformation through innovation and the creation of more sustainable agricultural and marine industries. It further calls for: facilitating the movement of workers from unproductive to more productive work; encouraging transition from informal to formal employment and enterprises; and reducing economic insecurity and social exclusion through social protection floors.
Negotiations on the joint Ministerial Declaration that the HLPF and the ECOSOC High-level Segment are expected to adopt on 19 and 20 July 2017, respectively, are underway. As per the zero draft of the Ministerial Declaration released on 7 June, UN Member States would highlight the need for accelerated implementation of the 2030 Agenda. They would also, inter alia: call for attention to leveraging synergies and co-benefits, while avoiding or minimizing goal conflicts and trade-offs, and encourage amplifying the poverty-reducing impact of actions taken to achieve other SDGs, such as those related to growth, energy, infrastructure and inequality.
While the 2016 session of the HLPF seeks to provide leadership and recommendations on and examples of SDG implementation, one of the key questions for HLPF 2017 is whether the SDGs are being implemented in an integrated and co-beneficial way, with minimal trade-offs. On the one hand, given this year’s HLPF’s focus on poverty and prosperity, the Forum would need to show that poverty can be addressed without compromising other SDGs. On the other, the thematic review and the in-depth review of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14 and 17 ought to address interlinkages, ensuring that no SDG is treated in isolation.
IISD’s ENB team will be reporting on the HLPF 2017 proceedings with daily reports and tweets, a nightly webpage with highlights and photos, and a summary and analysis at the conclusion. The SDG Knowledge Hub will also report on events on the sidelines of the Forum. We look forward to helping you follow progress and challenges in implementing the 2030 Agenda, as revealed by the discussions to take place at HLPF 2017.