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Bono at TED2013: Virtually Eliminating Extreme Poverty is Possible by 2030

Bono’s much-anticipated talk at the recent TED2013 conference is being made available online today in its entirety. In the speech, the musician and cofounder of ONE and (RED) calls on a new generation of evidence-based activists, or “factivists,” to see that the injustice of extreme poverty is brought to an end. He notes that global extreme poverty has already been cut in half over the past 20 years and, if we remain on the current trajectory, could be virtually eliminated by 2030.  Reaching this ‘Zero Zone’ means that less than 5% of the world’s population will live in extreme poverty.

Bono also highlights the incredible progress in the treatment of AIDS, the fight against malaria and the stunning reduction in child mortality – all in the last 10 years.  Compared to a decade ago, 7,256 fewer children die every day from preventable, treatable diseases – that’s 2.65 million lives saved every year.

“Have you read anything, anywhere in the last week that is remotely as important as that number?” he challenges.

Bono warns the progress we have made is in jeopardy – getting to the ‘Zero Zone’ is not inevitable and gains could be reversed.  He exhorts the audience to fight corruption, inequality, apathy and inertia in the pursuit of empowering the world’s poorest people.

Addressing the threat of corruption, Bono says open data tools and social networking services are helping to let in the light. “There’s a vaccine for that [corruption] too… it’s called transparency.” Thanks to open data, Bono says, “It’s getting harder to hide if you’re doing bad stuff.”

In the talk, Bono challenges viewers to become “factivists” who share the facts of progress and help campaign for more progress – by joining groups like ONE.  He also urges governments to continue to fund programs successfully combating extreme poverty and disease like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

–  Read about the methodology of getting to the ‘Zero Zone’ (below).


ONE is a global advocacy and campaigning organization backed by more than 3 million people from around the world dedicated to fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. For more information please visit www.ONE.org.

Facts and Methodology

Getting to the ‘Zero Zone’

Because of the innovative partnerships between grassroots activists, politicians and the private sector, since the year 2000 (various sources):

  • There are 8 million more AIDS patients getting life-saving antiretroviral drugs (UNAIDS, 2012)
  • 8 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have reduced malaria rates by 75% (WHO,2012)
  • Child mortality under five is down by 2.65 million a year compared to 2000 – that’s more than 7,256 children saved each day (UNICEF, 2012)

Global progress on ending extreme poverty (World Bank, CGD and ONE calculations):

  • From 1990-2000, global extreme poverty dropped from 43% of the world’s population to 33%
  • From 2000 to 2010, extreme poverty worldwide goes down again to 21% – cutting extreme poverty in half
  • If this trajectory is continued into the future we get to the zero zone before 2030

Methodology on ending extreme poverty by 2030:

Based on recent trends, we estimate that aggregate global extreme poverty rates potentially could reach zero by 2028.  This assumes that the annualized poverty reduction rate between 1990 and 2008 (1.145 percentage points) is held constant going forward.  This is calculated as follows.  First, we determine the total reduction in extreme poverty rates: 1990 baseline rate (43.05) – 2008 baseline rate (22.43) = 20.62.  Second, we calculate the annualized reduction rate: total reduction in extreme poverty rates (20.62) divided by the number of observed years (18) = 1.145.  Third, we determine how many years it will take to reach zero: dividing the 2008 extreme poverty rate (22.43) by the annualized reduction rate (1.145) = 19.6 years.  Lastly, we add this to the baseline year (2008) to project when the developing countries’ aggregate rate could reach zero = between 2027 and 2028.  This approach does not account for different growth and inequality scenarios, which is why ONE consulted with leading researchers to corroborate and triangulate our findings with their own.