The history of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is inextricably linked to the date 17 October 1987. On that day, more than one hundred thousand people gathered at the Place Trocadero in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948 to pay tribute to the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger.
In the year 2000, at the Millennium Summit, representatives of 189 countries, including 147 Heads of State and Government, adopted an ambitious UN program called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to address global problems of mankind. Among the eight key goals, the goal of eradicating poverty and hunger was set as a priority.
On September 25, 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Agenda, which identified 17 goals and targets to promote sustainable development in areas of primary importance to humanity and the world. Eradication of hunger and poverty, problems related water and sanitation, low-cost and clean energy, as well as education were identified as priorities.
There are several causes of poverty, major among which are economic – unemployment or low wages, the growing impact of the environmental degradation on people’s lives and food security, as well as medical and social causes – age, disease, low social security, limited work capacity. An international day is dedicated to the people who struggle to eradicate poverty on a daily basis, to those who provide any assistance to this category of people.
Each year, the activities of the Day are devoted to a certain theme, among which in different years were: “Common Efforts to End Poverty”, “Human Rights and Dignity of People Living in Poverty”, “Children and Families Against Poverty”, “From Poverty to Decent Work: Bridging the Gap”, “Leaving No One behind: Thinking, Deciding and Acting Together Against Extreme Poverty”, “Building a Sustainable Future: Together to End Poverty and Discrimination” and others.
The theme of the International Day for Poverty Eradication, which is celebrated on October 17 this year, is connected with the task of achieving social and environmental justice for all. The growing recognition of the multidimensional nature of poverty means that the two issues are inextricably linked.
“Poverty is not just a lack of income and resources for sustainable livelihoods. It manifests itself in hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, and lack of participation in decision-making,” the UN documents note.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 820 million people lacked access to sufficient food in 2018, compared to 811 million in the previous year. The world’s population is growing rapidly and food production has not been able to meet all their needs as a result of unsustainable use, land degradation and desertification, environmental degradation and climate change.
According to the UN, new climate conditions will provoke changes in crop productivity, which will cause mass poverty. By 2030, more than 120 million people will fall below the poverty line and lose access to health services, quality products and other social benefits. This will particularly affect those who already live in poor regions.
Most of the world’s poorest people (about 75 percent) live in rural areas, and their livelihoods and food security depend directly on agriculture. Yet they often do not have adequate access to resources, services, technology, markets and economic opportunities.
2018-2019 The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution “Eradicating rural poverty in the context of the Sustainable Development Agenda until 2030”. This document calls for the development, implementation and implementation of social and economic policies, taking into account the gender dimension, poverty eradication, including in rural areas, as well as to facilitate and expand access of developing countries to appropriate technologies designed to improve the situation of the poor and increase productivity.
In 1990, 36% of the world’s population lived on less than $2 a day. 25 years later, the proportion had fallen to 10%, and by the end of 2018. – to 8.6 percent by the end of 2018, as per the UN News Service.
Despite significant improvements in the global poverty situation, the current rate of poverty reduction cast shadow over the UN’s goal of eradicating poverty in the next 10 years.
In recent years, the rate of poverty reduction in developing countries and in some middle-income countries has slowed down due to the global economic downturn, conflicts, climate change and natural disasters. In many regions of the world, gross domestic product per capita growth rates are far below those needed to eradicate poverty. In addition, sharp increases in inequality have contributed to the situation.
According to the UN, 783 million people currently live below the international poverty line ($1.90 a day, the extreme poverty rate). Most people living below the poverty line are in two regions of the world: Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The number of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa increased from 278 million in 1990 to 413 million in 2015, more than half the world’s poor.
The main causes of widespread poverty in Africa are related to the debt gap and the sharp rise in public debt. Thus, Africa’s total debt doubled in the last five to six years and in 2018 was 53% of GDP. Of the 45 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, 33 are among the least developed countries.
Today, the resulting global crisis due to the Coronavirus pandemic has a serious impact on the economies of all countries. The growth of unemployment and poverty in the context of a pandemic is a serious problem even in the most developed countries. The UN believes that the number of people living in extreme poverty could increase dramatically. Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, according to the World Bank, the number of extremely poor people in the world will increase by 150 million in 2020-21.
A report on the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Sustainable Development Goals 2030 reports that 1.6 billion workers have already experienced a 60 percent decline in income. Loss of income, lack of social protection and rising prices mean that poverty now threatens even those whose economic situation was previously sustainable. However, most of the increase in poverty will be in middle-income countries, which are more than 80 percent of the world’s poor. According to the UN, in the worst-case scenario of a 20 percent decline in income or consumption, the number of people living in poverty could increase by 420-580 million compared to 2018.
The new world economic crisis provoked by the coronavirus pandemic, the recovery from which may be prolonged under these conditions, has affected the SCO countries as well.
Therefore, the SCO member states, where almost half of the world’s population lives, give priority to overcoming the political and socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. The countries’ efforts are primarily aimed at fighting unemployment and poverty,
In addition, there are more than 800 million young people living in the SCO region, and therefore the lack of economic opportunities can become a dangerous trend that can push socially vulnerable young people into illegal activities, including terrorism and drug trafficking. In this context, the eradication of poverty in the SCO region is becoming increasingly important for overall prosperity, security and stability in the region.
The priority goal of the SCO, in accordance with the SCO Charter, is to promote comprehensive and balanced economic growth and sustainable development in the region through equal partnership in order to improve the living conditions of the peoples of SCO member states.
To this end, under the chairmanship of the Russian side, the SCO member-states are currently developing an Action Plan for 2021-2025 to implement the Development Strategy of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization until 2025, which is scheduled for adoption at the forthcoming SCO summit in November this year. This document is also aimed at establishing cooperation among the SCO Member-States in the field of poverty reduction.
According to UN estimates, a high level of poverty persists in some SCO Member-States. The majority of poor people live in remote urban areas and rural areas, and experience significant difficulties. In order to overcome the problems of “accessibility” (services or infrastructure) for remote and rural areas, the Russian side has developed and proposed for adoption of a Concept of Cooperation between the Organization’s Member States on Development of Remote and Rural Areas in the Digital Age at the forthcoming SCO Summit.
In addition, the SCO Member State – Pakistan has made a proposal to establish a special working group on poverty reduction and the SCO Centre of Excellence for Poverty Reduction within the organization in order to develop and implement a joint program of multilateral cooperation for eliminating poverty in the SCO region, exchange positive experience and best practices in this field.
It is also important to note that China, which is one of the founding states of SCO, has impressive experience in poverty reduction. China, the most populous country in the world, has come very close to solving the problem of complete poverty eradication. To a large extent, this is a direct result of the policy of reform and opening up, which was initiated in 1978. At that time, over 95% of China’s population was in the grip of poverty.
The general strategy of targeted assistance to the needy, outlined by the country’s leadership, was aimed at six priority tasks: the need to guarantee the accuracy of the beneficiary to be supported, targeting of project planning, targeted use of financial resources, targeting of measures for poor families, targeted assistance to rural areas, led to achievement of concrete results in poverty eradication.
Beginning in 2014, work began throughout China to create archives and create personal cards for each poor family. Thus, 29.48 million poor families were registered, the number of poor people was about 90 million and 128 thousand poor villages were established throughout the country. The state collected information about the distribution of poor people, the causes of their poverty, as well as the need for assistance. Based on this data, relevant programs were implemented.
The experience of poverty alleviation in China shows how important it is to focus on identifying the root causes of poverty and creating conditions for people to solve this complex task on their own.
The 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in December 2018 adopted the Resolution on eradicating rural poverty, which incorporated the concept and practice of “point reduction of poverty” advocated by China. China’s achievements were highly recognized by the international community. An important lesson learned from China’s experience is that focusing on education and improving public health can eradicate poverty and prevent the intergenerational transmission of poverty.
At the same time, China is developing infrastructure and implementing an innovative model to combat rural poverty. For example, advanced information and communications technology is used to ensure that remote areas are supported by e-commerce and other modern technology applications. They are also used to market and sell agricultural products in poorer regions.
According to the Chinese leadership, in 2020, China will completely eliminate absolute poverty, 1.4 billion Chinese together will join the society of middle income. This means that China can realize the first goal of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030, 10 years earlier.
According to the World Bank estimates, since 1978, the number of people in China living below the international poverty line has decreased by more than 850 million people – 70% of the world total. In this way, China has made a significant contribution to reducing poverty in the world. UN Secretary General António Guterres said that over the past 10 years, China has made the greatest contribution to global poverty reduction.
Based on national plans and priorities, the SCO member countries cooperate and share experiences. All Central Asian countries, India, Pakistan and Russia have also achieved significant results in the fight against poverty based on their national plans. For example, a report published on the UN website states that there are virtually no people classified as “absolutely poor” in Russia according to the World Bank methodology. The country’s effective anti-poverty policy provides for a minimum of twofold reduction in the national poverty rate by 2024. Accordingly, the SCO countries have something to learn from each other, and the platform of SCO contributes to this.
We are aware that the current difficult and tense situation associated with the Coronavirus pandemic has proved the interconnectedness of all countries and peoples of the world, the leaders of the SCO Member States, speaking at the 75th Anniversary Session of the UN General Assembly in September this year, put forward a number of important initiatives aimed at eradicating poverty and eliminating poverty in the world.
Our path goes from the welfare of people to the welfare of the world, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. It has not been easy to provide access to free health services for more than 500 million people in 2-3 years. Today, India is conducting a massive campaign to free India from tuberculosis by 2025, he emphasized.
President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said: “High expectations of our citizens are associated with achieving practical results in accordance with the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030. Restoring the previous pace of joint work within the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development Goals will require quick and well-coordinated steps. In this context, the next 10 years are critical for our generation. The main fundamental goal – the total eradication of hunger on the planet – must be unconditionally achieved.” In this regard, he noted the importance of convening the Summit on Food Systems in 2021.
President Xi Jinping said -“China will honestly fulfill its promises of international assistance for the amount of $2 billion within 2 years,” The world cannot, he emphasized, return to the past, to a closed, isolated, all the more artificially split state. It is impossible to close eyes to the challenges of economic globalization, it is better to start eliminating such urgent problems as the gap between rich and poor, uneven development, etc. In the face of the pandemic, we must pay special attention and care to developing countries, especially African countries. The world community should take timely and effective measures to provide debt relief and a moratorium on debt payments, assistance, and consistently implement the “UN Agenda for Sustainable Development until 2030″ to help them get out of the difficult situation,” said the PRC leader.
President Sooronbay Jeenbekov of the Kyrgyz Republic noted that removing barriers to economic cooperation to improve the welfare of the people of Central Asia is vital to the development of transport and communication corridors, logistics centers and terminals. “We must recreate the main routes of the ancient Great Silk Road. Construction and launch of the “China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan” railway will be our significant contribution to connecting Asia with Europe”, – said the President of Kyrgyzstan.
“Illicit financial flows from developing countries to wealthy countries and offshore tax havens are causing enormous damage. This leads to impoverishment of developing countries, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan emphasized in his speech. Money that could be spent on human development is being pumped out by corrupt elites. Loss of foreign currency leads to currency depreciation, which in turn leads to inflation and poverty.
If this phenomenon is not addressed, it will continue to exacerbate the inequality between rich and poor countries and ultimately cause a much more serious global crisis. I call on this Assembly to take the lead in efforts to establish a global framework to curb illicit financial flows and ensure the early repatriation of stolen wealth,” said the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized in his statement that a full or partial reduction in global employment in the 2nd quarter of 2020 is equivalent to a loss of 400 million jobs, and everything must be done to ensure that such unemployment does not become stagnant, that people return to work, can provide for their families and not fall into poverty, without prospects for life. This is indeed the most acute global social problem, so the mission of politics now is to pave the way for trade, joint projects and fair competition, rather than tying the hands of business and business initiative, he said. “Clearance, liberation of the world trade from barriers, bans, restrictions, illegitimate sanctions could be a good help to restore global growth and reduce unemployment,” – said the President of Russia.
President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon in his speech said “We hope that the Decade of Action for the implementation of global goals will contribute to finding a lasting solution to such pressing world problems as climate change, poverty, gender inequality and financing,”. In his opinion, it is necessary to solve the problem of climate change, which creates serious obstacles in this process before various countries, including Tajikistan. Over the past decades, there has been a noticeable reduction in the area of glaciers important for all Central Asian countries. In this context, in order to find ways to solve the problems related to climate change, the President of Tajikistan proposed to strengthen international cooperation in the protection of water sources, as well as to establish the International Glacier Protection Fund.
“Continuation of instability in different parts of the world, growth of conflicts and violence, environmental disasters and other threats of our time aggravate global problems of poverty”, said the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev speaking at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly. These problems, he emphasized, have sharply aggravated during the period of pandemic. The whole world community, all of us should be concerned about the “voice of poverty”, which sounds even stronger today. In this regard, the head of Republic of Uzbekistan proposed to define the problems of poverty eradication and fight against poverty as one of the main topics of the UN General Assembly session, as well as to hold a Global Summit dedicated to these issues.
Today, against the backdrop of the pandemic, the factors of uncertainty in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 are increasing. At this particular time the SCO Member States are making efforts to strengthen social and economic development and are actively participating in all activities of international cooperation. The SCO is ready to contribute to the global elimination of poverty so that the developmental experience of Organization’s Member States would benefit the whole world.