Amazing progress on reducing poverty could be lost unless we act to stop vulnerable people sliding back, a new report warns.
“The eradication of poverty is not just about getting to zero, it is also about staying there,” said Helen Clark, the head of the United Nations Development Programme, which released the report.
It’s based on the latest human development index rankings – one of the most detailed insights into how the world is doing on reducing poverty.
Entitled Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience, it provides a fresh perspective on reducing poverty that’s also data rich.
“Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands and United States remain in the lead for another year, while Sierra Leone, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger continue to rank bottom of the list,” says the report.
But it’s not just about keeping score: it’s also about real improvements in peoples’ lives.
The numbers show huge progress. African countries have registered the highest increases in human development, led by changes in income and life expectancy.
“Remarkable advances have been made in some areas,” says Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who contributed to the report. But, she adds, “Two years from the 2015 deadline, Africa’s progress on the Millennium Development Goals remains uneven.”
These critical benchmarks are being updated and rethought next year as the Sustainable Development Goals.
“I think there is increasing convergence on aiming for zero poverty,” Khalid Malik of UNDP told the German news service Deutsche Welle.
“But what we are saying is: it cannot just be zero poverty, it also has to stay at zero. We do not allow things to go back.”
Gathering better information is critical, argues Bill Gates, who calls for a “data revolution” in the report.
“With better data, countries will get better at every single goal they set, whether it’s saving childrens’ lives, increasing agricultural yield or empowering women.”
The Report calls for “an international consensus on universal social protection” to be included in the agenda – measures like unemployment insurance and pensions, as well as education, health, water and sanitation.
And it argues for spending more money on kids early in their lives – the time when they are developing and growing fastest. Many countries spend more money on people as they get older.