19 October 2017
International Day Emphasizes Progress in Extreme Poverty
UN Photo/Kibae Park
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The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty focused on the theme ‘Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive societies'.

UNDP stressed, “poverty isn’t permanent,” in its message for the Day, highlighting data that show that the number of people who live in extreme poverty has been cut in half over the past two decades.

UN leaders recognized this progress on eradicating poverty while calling for reaffirming commitment to eradicate extreme poverty as called for in the SDGs.

17 October 2017: On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, UN leaders and others emphasized global progress in the fight against poverty while calling for continued action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and end extreme poverty. The 2017 commemoration focused on the theme, ‘Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive societies.’

According to the UN, more than 800 million people globally live in extreme poverty and more are threatened by inequality, unemployment, insecurity, conflict and climate change. SDG 1 aims to end poverty in all its forms everywhere, ensure social protection for the poor and vulnerable, increase access to basic services and support people harmed by disasters and environmental, economic and social shocks.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres stressed the world has made “remarkable progress on eradicating poverty since 1990” in a video message for the Day. Observing that countries have recommitted to fighting poverty and exclusion through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Guterres called for developing innovative approaches, partnerships and solutions, addressing the root causes of poverty and listening to the views of people living in poverty and acting with them to eradicate poverty.

UNDP emphasized that poverty is not permanent: between 1999 and 2013, 250,000 people climbed out of poverty every single day.

“Poverty isn’t permanent,” the UN Development Programme (UNDP) stressed in its message for the Day. UNDP explained that the percentage of people who live in extreme poverty around the world has fallen from 28 percent to 11 percent between 1999 and 2013, translating to approximately “250,000 people worldwide who climb out of poverty every single day.” These gains include the following decreases in extreme poverty: from 34.7 percent to 3.2 percent in Eastern and Southeastern Asia; from 13.9 percent to 5.4 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean; from 37.5 percent to 14.4 percent in Central and South Asia; from 44.3 percent to 27.2 percent in Oceania; and from 57.7 percent to 42.3 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite these figures, UNDP observes that 7 out of 10 people think that poverty has increased even though data show that the number of people who live in extreme poverty has been cut in half over the past two decades. UNDP therefore calls for changing the “misconception that poverty will always be with us.”

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner highlighted the world’s “impressive progress on eradicating poverty” in the past two decades, stressing that hunger and malnutrition, lack of education and other basic services, and other manifestations of poverty “are not inevitable” but “something we all strive to eradicate.” Observing that rising inequalities and persistent poverty remain critical challenges around the world, Steiner said eradicating poverty will require inclusive, sustainable economic growth; providing the minimum essential basic services for health, education and sanitation; addressing tensions over natural resources; tackling drivers of civil unrest and conflict; and designing social protect systems to protect the most marginalized and vulnerable from shocks and economic crises that can push them into or back into poverty.

The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, highlighted that the poor are disproportionately at risk of torture, domestic violence, arrest and prosecution, and early death. He called for a new approach by governments, the development community and the human rights community that “gives due attention to how often, and how exactly, the civil and political rights of the poor are violated,” saying the collection of data on the violation of the poor’s civil and political rights is a critical first step in tackling the problem.

UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova called for “‘swift actions” by governments to translate the SDGs into effective policies to eradicate poverty.

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), ATD Fourth World, the NGO Sub-committee for the Eradication of Poverty and the Missions of Burkina Faso and France to the UN organized a commemoration event at UN Headquarters in New York, US.

2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) decision to designate 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. [UN Press Release] [UN DESA Press Release] [UN Secretary-General Statement] [UNDP Story: Poverty isn’t permanent] [UNDP Administrator Statement] [Special Rapporteur Statement] [UNESCO Director-General Statement][International Day of Poverty Website]

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