SDG #1 End Poverty
By Shani Asokan
Ceylon Today Features
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals that were agreed upon by all United Nations (UN) Member States at the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Summit as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Goal one of the SDGs are to end poverty in all forms, everywhere by 2030. Between 1990 and 2015, the number of people living in extreme poverty declined from 36 per cent. Today, about 10 per cent of the world’s population, that is approximately 730 million people live on less than US$1.90 per day. However, the pace of the decline of poverty is decelerating, and has been over the last decade. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, decades of progress hang in the balance.
Research suggests that the economic impact of the global pandemic could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion people. This would be the first time global poverty has increased since 1990. Without collective action, estimates show that around 480 million people will remain in extreme poverty by 2030. Of this, 87 per cent will be living in the least developed countries, and 80 per cent in fragile situations.
A multi-dimensional problem
Poverty is a complex, layered problem that requires a multi-sectoral approach. That is, there must be progress and action in all SDGs in order to end all forms of poverty everywhere. Only combined efforts in health, education, food and nutrition, social protection, gender equality and so on will lead to a sustainable eradication of poverty.
In many parts of the world, simply securing a job does not equate to a decent living. Many of those working in factories and other similar situations work in poor conditions and earn very low wages. Thus, without adequate social protection and opportunities for safe work. Similarly, literacy plays a significant role in pulling children out of poverty. In many less developed countries, child labour, though less prevalent is an issue. With access to education and educational facilities, stricter truant policies, children can be better protected from the social contexts they live in.
A plan to end poverty
SDG 1 focuses on global development cooperation on helping the poorest and most vulnerable categories of people in the least developed, conflict-affected, instable countries. The aim, is to leave no one behind.
Eradicating poverty is one of the greatest challenges humanity has faced. A number of growing factors impede progress in poverty eradication, with climate change, conflict, food security and now COVID-19 being at the forefront. The SDGs, are a commitment to finish what was started by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Currently, the UN has defined seven targets and 14 indicators for SDG 1 and use these for tracking purposes. Even before COVID-19, the world was off-track to meeting its 2030 goal.
As mentioned above, the SDGs rely on global cooperation. That is, multi-lateral partnerships between countries, both developed and developing to create international policy and development strategies. It is through these partnerships that nations can be pushed towards creating domestic policies and laws that have the potential to create meaningful change. These policies can bridge existing gaps and extend aid to the most marginalised and vulnerable groups in society, narrow disparity gaps and raise awareness on safe work and social protection.
SDG 1 and COVID-19
As mentioned above, the pandemic is expected to push a significant number of people back into extreme poverty. This global crisis has resulted in a loss of jobs and incomes, limited social protection and a rise in prices of goods and services.
This underemployment and unemployment mean that around 16.6 billion vulnerable workers in the informal economy, that is half the global workforce, may be significantly affected. The pandemic also leaves over one billion slum dwellers at high risk from COVID-19 as they already face a lack of adequate housing, no running water, shared toilets, little to no waste management systems and limited access to healthcare.
Additionally, women and children are among those who bear the full force of the pandemic’s effects. Lack of access to healthcare has caused an increase in deaths under five years of age and maternal deaths. Many countries have also reported an increase in domestic violence during the pandemic.
School closures have caused over 370 million children worldwide to miss out on school lunches, a meal that they are heavily dependent on for their daily nutrition. A lack of computers or technology in poor households, means that remote learning too is out of their reach, effectively cutting off their access to education. Around 70 countries also reported a disruption in child vaccine programs during the height of the pandemic in 2020.
As more and more families fall below the poverty line, children are more at risk of child labour, child marriage and child trafficking. Women are more at risk of domestic violence or death, and whole families are at risk of losing their lives to COVID-19. This, combined with accelerations in climate change and global warming mean that a significant change in global and domestic policy is needed to stay on track with SDG goal one.
We are in desperate need of a shift in gears, and a re-evaluation of the plan to fight global poverty. New threats call for new strategies to ensure meaningful and effective work in this area as well as all the other SDGs, as a full cross-sectoral approach is the only way we can meet the 2030 Agenda goals.