While global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, one in ten people in developing regions are still living with their families on less than the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day, and there are millions more who make little more than this daily amount. Significant progress has been made in many countries within Eastern and Southeastern Asia, but up to 42% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to live below the poverty line.
This rate is expected to increase in the next few years, due to the appearance of new threats such as climate change, terrorism, food insecurity and conflicts. Furthermore poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making.
Economic growth must be inclusive to provide sustainable jobs and promote equality.
Goal 1 is, therefore, an ambitious commitment to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions. It involves reaching, by 2030, the following targets:
- to completely eradicate extreme poverty worldwide, which is defined as if one lives on less than $ 1.25 a day;
- to halve at least the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty as defined by each country;
- to put in place social protection systems needed to help alleviate the suffering of disaster-prone countries and provide support in the face of great economic risks and measures for all, adapted to the national context;
- to ensure that all men and women, especially the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources and access to basic services, land ownership and control, and other forms of ownership, inheritance and natural resources and new technologies and adequate financial services, including microfinance;
- to strengthen the resilience of the poor and vulnerable people and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to extreme weather events and other economic, social or environmental shocks and disasters;
- to ensure a high level of resource mobilization, including through enhanced development cooperation, to provide developing and especially least-developed countries with adequate and predictable means to implement programs and policies aimed at ending poverty in all its forms;
- to establish viable national, regional and international policy principles, based on pro-poor and gender-responsive development strategies, to accelerate investment in sustainable development measures; elimination of poverty.
This 2030Agenda echoes the 1944 ILO Declaration of Philadelphia which states that "poverty wherever it exists is a danger to the prosperity of all, and the struggle against it must be carried out with unflagging energy within each nation and through a continuous and concerted international effort." The warning and call to action of ILO constituents is as relevant and important today as it was 70 years ago. Recent social and employment trends are worrying and provide the backdrop for equally worrying political tensions that could undermine international cooperation so crucial to ending poverty and achieving the SDGs.
On the other hand, these Sustainable Development Goals are set by the United Nations on a questionable basis, which may ruin any progressive efforts at the global level, say two activists of NGOs engaged in the fight against terrorism and poverty.
In the web site Common Dreams, for example, it is stated: "Poverty can be conceptualized in many ways. It is presented as both a preventable disease (“to be eradicated”) and as a prison (“to free humanity from”). In both, the framing reveals the framers’ view, conscious or otherwise, on causation. Diseases are just part of the natural world, so if poverty is a disease, it is something for which no one is to blame. And the logic of a prison is that people are in it for committing a crime. The former denies the idea that human actions may be a cause of inequality and poverty; the latter invokes the idea that poverty is the fault – the crime - of the poor. Also note the phrase, 'the greatest global challenge'. This asserts a logic in which there is a hierarchy of individual issues based on relative importance, with poverty at the top. The truth is that humanity must now confront a convergence of mega crises, all of which are deeply interconnected: Government corruption; ecological destabilization; structural debt; hyper-consumerism established in the west and rapidly expanding in the east and south, etc. Framing poverty this way conceals the web of interconnected systems and removes them from consideration. The result: No systemic solutions can arise from a logic that denies systemic problems. There is a good reason for this: it protects the status quo. This logic validates the current system and ordering of power by excusing it of blame and says it can, indeed must continue, business as usual. This is the logic of the corporate capitalist system."
Common Dreams goes further and proposes a different perspective: “To really tackle poverty, inequality and climate change, we would need to change that logic to one that was built on an acceptance of how much these problems are the result of human actions.” For example, it would be easy and instinctive to introduce laws allowing local authorities to revoke the agreements with corporations in the event of significant negative social or environmental implications.
So there are two attitudes facing the 2030 Agenda. If implemented, it could reverse these gloomy trends by promoting social justice around the world, eradicating poverty and reducing gross inequalities. It would make progress towards economic, social and environmental sustainability. Indeed, the 2030 Agenda reflects the international community's view on decent work that it is both a means and an end of sustainable development; an idea for which the ILO has been mobilizing for twenty years. On the other hand, it is thought that "unfortunately, none of these real problems will be included in SDG actions, because they contradict the current dominant logic, and most importantly, because they could actually be effective and redistribute the power and wealth more equitably. See also Overcoming extreme poverty and Advancing Inclusive Growth to End Extreme Poverty