First chapter for ending extreme poverty
President Barack Obama believes it. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia believes it. I believe it, too: By 2030, we can eradicate extreme poverty.
This is not a hollow platitude. The generations living today are the first in human history that could eliminate extreme deprivation and hunger. It is critical that all nations strive to meet this goal. Not only for our own security, though we know that a more prosperous world is more stable, but because ending extreme poverty is the right thing to do.
Since 2000, international development has been shaped by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an ambitious agenda of measurable targets that the world’s nations committed themselves to strive to achieve. In no small part because of this agenda, the past 13 years have seen more than half a billion people work their way out of extreme poverty.
The target date for these goals is Dec. 31, 2015. That is why, last summer, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed 27 leaders from around the world — including me — to a high-level panel charged with formulating an agenda for global development beyond 2015.
Our report is set to be released Thursday. It is the result of passionate and informed discussion among panel members in meetings across the globe. It grew out of hundreds of conversations with civil society leaders, activists, women, young people, people with disabilities, businesses and development professionals. It respects what the MDGs have been able to achieve and demonstrates clear-headedness about where the Millennium agenda has fallen short.
Our post-2015 agenda first strives to build on the accomplishments of the Millennium agenda by finishing what was started: We seek a world in 2030 where no person must survive on less than $1.25 per day, and where no one goes hungry.
To make these gains permanent, we must address the root causes of poverty and better connect the very poor to the economic, social and political lives of their countries. This means taking straightforward steps — like ensuring that every person has a valid and recognized legal identity.
Eradicating extreme poverty will also require more difficult measures, such as achieving broad, sustainable economic growth that sees more women, young people and people with disabilities in formal employment around the globe. It will require us to ensure that all have access to education, healthcare, sanitation and physical and energy infrastructure. With this, the poorest of the poor and those on the cusp have the tools and resources they need to stay out of extreme poverty.
We know, too, that any progress can be easily offset by environmental degradation and climate change. So the post-2015 agenda must move beyond the framework of the MDGs by fully integrating sustainability into the development agenda. All countries — including the United States — must engage in responsible stewardship of their natural resources, alter their consumption habits and increase use of renewable energy sources.
By 2030, we can expect a world that is even more interconnected than the one we live in today. But the post-2015 agenda gives us an opportunity to harness the forces of globalization for good.
That means we need a commitment from individuals, governments, philanthropic organizations, the private sector and the development community to forge a new broad, ambitious global partnership, to be more transparent in their actions and practices and to hold one another accountable for the new development agenda.
Our report is just the first chapter, not the final word, in setting priorities for post-2015 development. But the vision it lays out is one in which, by 2030, we can save more than 1 billion women and girls from being killed or harmed violently. It can ensure that as many as 6.9 million children under age 5, who would otherwise die each year, can live and prosper. Our vision is one in which 1.2 billion more people will have electricity, and at least a third of that power will come from renewable sources.
These numbers are huge because they are commensurate with global ambition and with the hopes of people around the world – especially young people. They reflect the scale of the challenges we face — but also the incredible scope of what we can achieve by working together.
The United Nations members plan to begin debating the post-2015 agenda at the General Assembly in September. This dialogue will continue for many months.
But if the experience of our high-level panel is any guide, the global conversation will be passionate, respectful and, above all, optimistic about the future we can build for – and with – one another.
PHOTO (Insert A): U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a meeting in Sochi, May 17, 2013. REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool
PHOTO (Insert B): A child looks on from a house at La Chureca, Managua’s municipal garbage dump, which is located near Lake Managua, June 9, 2012. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas