With the bang of a gavel, our leaders approved a 15-year plan to curb one of the world’s biggest headaches: poverty. The Sustainable Development Goal 1, alongside 17 others, was set by the UN on September 25, 2015, and is contained in chapter 3 of Agenda 21 of the Sustainable Development Summit of 2015.
According to the UN, poverty is the inability to get opportunities and choices, a violation of basic human rights and dignity. It translates to the lack of capacity to participate in society effectively. It is the inability to provide health care to a family, the lack of enough food and clothe for the children, the lack of a job to earn a living or enough land to grow food, and the inability to access credit. It means powerlessness, insecurity and individual, household and community exclusion. It implies vulnerability to violence, and it often means living in fragile or marginal environments, short of clean water and sanitation.
SDG 1 Offers a Complex Challenge
Agenda 21 emphasises that poverty is one of the most complex and multidimensional problems, originating from both the national and international domains. There doesn’t exist a common solution for global application. Instead, country-specific approaches to curb poverty and coordination of national and international efforts, in addition to the parallel procedure of creating a conducive international environment, are vital for a way out of this problem.
Below are some of the goals and how they were set to be implemented:
1. Completely eliminate extreme poverty by 2030.
According to the UN, anyone living on $1.25 or below a day is living in extreme poverty. As of 2014, according to a study, 836 million people across the globe were still living below the poverty line, a tally that the UN is planning to reduce to as low as zero by 2030. About one fifth of the population in almost all developing nations live on less than $1.25 a day, with the biggest contributors coming from sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
2. Reduce by at least 1/2 the proportion of children, men and women living in poverty all across the globe.
Poverty and extreme poverty are two completely different things in the eyes of the UN. While doing away with extreme poverty by 2030 is a viable ambition, eradicating poverty as a whole doesn’t seem so likely. The thing is, you can get someone out of extreme poverty but still have them remaining in poverty. Fortunately, the UN knows it and that’s why they think it would be an achievement if they reduced the crisis by at least half.
3. Implement the appropriate social protection measures and systems for all, and by 2030 achieve enough coverage of the poor.
The UN wants to use the governments of the poverty-stricken nations to ensure that while the endeavours to ward off poverty in those countries goes on, the poor are protected against any kind of exploitation and unfair treatment from government systems, the rich and even law enforcement bodies.
4. Ensure that by 2030, everyone, particularly the poor and the vulnerable can easily access basic services at affordable rates, have equal rights to economic resources, and be allowed ownership of such factors as land without any unnecessary barriers.
They should also have access to new technology systems such as computer services and financial services such as micro-finance.
The UN realised that the extremely poor in most of these countries are still lagging behind and cannot make progress because their respective governments have not provided conducive environments for growth.
For instance, a good business idea, however small, cannot be implemented because there is no micro-finance to fund such projects. The big companies and businesses in various industries who can access massive loans from financial institutions thus continue to expand, and the poor are compelled to work for them at very low wages and remunerations.
Additionally, the goods and services produced by these established companies are sold at high prices making them generally unaffordable, however basic they are.
Most governments have also been found to attach unnecessary extra fees and taxes to basic commodities, a tendency the international body believes contributes hugely towards the poverty crisis.
5. By 2030, ensure that the poor are protected against vulnerability and exposure to adverse climate-related events such as floods and droughts, and other environmental social and economic disasters.
Most developing countries are focused on developing big cities and surrounding residential areas while neglecting rural and sub-urban areas, partly due to lack of funds but mostly due to embezzlement of funds, corruption and ignorance. The UN wants to see appropriate infrastructure such as all-weather roads, bridges, good drainage systems and dams constructed in these areas to reduce the magnitude of such environmental disasters as floods and droughts.
This can only be achieved if the UN is able to plead with international financial bodies to support these countries while monitoring government spending to ensure rural areas and slums are not left out during allocation of resources.
6. Ensure mobilisation of resources from various sources to a common pool through enhanced development cooperation.
This is to provide predictable and adequate means of enabling countries least developed and worst hit by poverty to execute policies and programs to eradicate poverty in all its dimensions.
7. Formulate sound policy Frameworks at both the national and international levels based on gender-sensitive and pro-poor development approaches to boost investment towards the eradication of poverty.
Since the turn of the century there sure has been quite a number of government-initiated approaches towards poverty eradication, some of which have already started producing significant results. The UN is not trying to overlook these efforts by coming up with new goals, policies and approaches of their own. Rather, the international body is trying to increase the pace at which implementation takes place, and make sure governments of these poverty-stricken countries are well funded, well equipped and are subjected to some sort of pressure to remain within the set mission.
Of course poverty has been a long-term global crisis, and eliminating it completely in less than 15 years is not going to be a walk in the park. But then joining hands of the international community for this course in such a determined manner is not something we have experienced before, and this could be the one thing we’ve been missing. Execution of these plans is set to be underway before the end of this year and hopefully by 2016, the world will start reaping the fruits of its investment.