October 17 was End Poverty Day – and we at the World Bank in Washington had a small celebration and a lively discussion around the new Poverty report: Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Taking on Inequality. Topics ranged from 2 billion people living in countries affected by conflict to the work on social inclusion – which included a two-part definition of social inclusion: “The process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society” and “The process of improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of people, disadvantaged on the basis of their identity, to take part in society.”
Then I happened to notice a tweet from Owen Barder on the Sidekick Manifesto (with a cool pop art look) with the apt tagline: In the story of poverty’s end, we can only be sidekicks. I particularly liked the statement: “The poor are not powerless or waiting to be saved.”
It seemed to be a good reminder that economic development is a complex and costly process, which requires political buy-in from a broad range of actors, including the local community. Progress is built over time, and there are no quick wins. In the larger scheme of things, the poor are the main actors, we’re just the sidekicks for development.
We are all aware of the statistics: and they are growing so fast that 66 out of 100 people on earth will be urban dwellers by 2050. This, of course, will have major implications for people and poverty, climate change, and service delivery.
Since the early 2000s, three-quarters of the world’s 750 largest cities have grown faster than their national economies. One of the key reasons for those cities’ success is higher productivity—as a result of their ability to attract skilled workers—as well as a high concentration of productive entrepreneurs and firms.
For decades, national and city leaders have also taken actions to build competitive cities, increasingly facilitating firms and industries to create jobs, raise productivity, and increase incomes over time—especially for the urban poor. They see this as the pathway to eliminate extreme poverty and to promote shared prosperity. This is particularly important in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where most of the world’s extreme poor live.
October 17 is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year’s theme is Moving from humiliation and exclusion to participation: Ending poverty in all its forms. This is not only the United Nations’ Global Goal #1, but it’s also one of the World Bank’s two main goals.
Working to end poverty can be an everyday practice. And we have dedicated our work to helping nations invest in both people and infrastructure to achieve this goal. To support our mission to end poverty by 2030, we launched the #ItsPossible social media campaign to inspire hope that it is indeed possible to end extreme poverty – if we all work together.
The Asian Institute of Management, an international management school based in Manila, Philippines, published the video below to illustrate how increased education translates into increased earnings and better functioning societies.
Oilmin Holdings, a logistics management company providing services to the oil, gas, and mining industry in Papua New Guinea, did not employ all that many women, but they had a star performer in Rose.
Rose had risen from administrative assistant to office manager in the company’s headquarters in Port Moresby. Her boss at Oilmin wanted her to go further up the chain, but in their industry, the next logical step – and one required for senior management roles - was managing a field site. It required long hours and smarts. Rose was willing and able, but it also meant a very remote location. It was too risky, her managers decided; they didn’t know how to keep her safe. Sending extra security guards – all male – would only increase the risk to her, not protect her, they concluded.
Where are these 370 million people, who are they, and why they are so overrepresented among the poor?
Only about 8% of the Indigenous Peoples around the world reside in Latin America, a far smaller number than most people surmise. On the other hand, over 75% live in China, South Asia and Southeast Asia, according to World Bank’s first global study of poverty among Indigenous Peoples across the developing world, Indigenous Peoples, Poverty, and Development.
With the adoption of a universal development agenda and growing commitments to fight climate change from all corners, 2015 will be remembered as a high water mark for international cooperation. Almost a year later, when the news is dominated by violence and nationalism, it’s tempting to give in to pessimism about global trends. But I find reason to hope when I see the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) gaining traction.
The SDGs were the result of the most collaborative and inclusive process in UN history and signal a very real shift in the way people think about tackling development challenges to deliver a viable future for both the planet and its people. There is growing understanding that the two are indelibly linked.
Last month, I traveled to Mexico to attend the launch of the country’s national financial inclusion policy.
The launch was an important milestone for the country, since just 44% of adults have access to a financial account, according to Mexico’s latest national survey on financial inclusion. The policy outlines a vision of how to extend access to formal financial services to the unbanked half of the population, and provides a roadmap for how to get there.
Worldwide, there are 2 billion unbanked adults and the international development community considers financial inclusion necessary to reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
Mexico accounts for 2.6% of that global number. The country is also among the 25 countries the World Bank Group and partners have prioritized in the Universal Financial Access by 2020 initiative. The goal of this initiative is to enable access to a transaction account to store money, and send and receive payments by adults who are not a part of the formal financial system.
Sustainable Development Goal 1 is to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” and has two specific poverty reduction targets. One target (SDG 1.1) talks of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030, building on a globally comparable notion of extreme poverty. Extreme poverty fell from 37 percent to 13 percent between 1990 and 2012; and based on national growth rates over the past 10 years, the global extreme poverty rate is estimated to be below 10 percent in 2015, a drop of more than two-thirds since 1990.
This post briefly explains how extreme poverty is measured and makes five main points:
- A large number of people have moved out of poverty since 1990, and impressively, even though the world’s population grew by 2 billion, there are over a billion fewer poor people.
- There are many countries with relatively low poverty rates that still have large numbers of the globally extreme poor living there (e.g. China, India).
- At the same time, there are a large number of countries with stubbornly high poverty rates where relatively small numbers of the world’s extremely poor live (e.g Haiti, Uganda).
- Since the SDGs focus on “no one left behind”, when looking at poverty across the world, both rates and numbers matter.
- SDG target 1.2 aims to halve national poverty rates in all its dimensions between 2015 and 2030 – as it’s based on country-specific understanding of poverty (which often differ) it’s relevant for all countries, rich and poor alike.