When I got that quote by the French philosopher tattooed on my arm, I wasn’t thinking about world poverty. I wasn’t thinking about the environment or peace or conflict or starvation or social justice. In fact, aside from puzzling over which recycling bin my coffee cup goes in, I didn’t think about much outside of my own world. Like so many others, I have plenty of my own problems to worry about, let alone ending world poverty. It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives. That daily crush of details — getting to work on time or paying the bills — can swallow up years. But if everyone only focused on what’s happening in their own world, then nothing would ever get better.
In a recent blog post, Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima highlights a critical issue all of us working in international development must address: How can we reduce the extreme inequality between the haves and the have-nots around the world? Oxfam’s launch of the Even it Up campaign takes the organization’s research findings on inequality another step further by offering policy solutions to help tackle this growing problem.
Oxfam’s report offers new evidence of an ever-widening gap between the rich and poor that threatens to undermine poverty eradication, examines the causes of the inequality crisis, and proposes concrete solutions to overcome it.
As we mark World Food Day, here’s a sobering thought: Too many people are hungry.
One in nine people suffer from chronic hunger, more than 1 billion people are undernourished, and 3.1 million children die every year due to hunger and malnutrition. This is a huge drain on development--when people are hungry and malnourished, they are less able to improve their livelihoods; adequately care for their families; live full and healthy lives and lift themselves out of poverty.
The problem is set to intensify in the future, as the population grows, climate change affects how we produce our food and the natural resources that help feed the world are stretched even further. We aren’t feeding the world as well as we should be in 2014. How can we do better in the future, when the world will need to feed and nourish 9 billion people in 2050?
The world has made impressive progress against hunger in the past few decades – mostly due to the hard work of poor people themselves. They are the most important stakeholders: Who could be more invested in the struggle against hunger than a young woman with a hectare of land to farm and two children to feed?
The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) 2014 tells us that the hunger target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—cutting in half the proportion of undernourished people—is within reach. Even better, the evidence shows that the world is making progress rapidly enough to end hunger by 2030. Setting and achieving a goal to end hunger and malnutrition in the post-MDG, post-2015 era can bring an end to widespread chronic hunger, which affects more than 800 million people today.
Ending hunger is important for the present and the future. It is far better to prevent a crisis than to respond after it has occurred.
Ironically, people living with hunger are, by and large, the very same people the world needs to feed a growing population. Smallholder farmers often face structural barriers to food security—for example, they lack access to basic infrastructure, such as roads to get crops to the market, storage facilities, electricity, and irrigation. They lack access to credit and land. Helping them increase their incomes and build assets, strengthening safety nets, and focusing on health and education outcomes will help build their resilience to shocks that are beyond their control, such as climate change-related weather events.
On Oct. 9, the first TEDxWBG will take place in Washington, D.C. A special group of thinkers, artists, and doers will come together and look at the theme of ending poverty from multiple perspectives.
It is heartening that, as we approach 2015 and the end of the Millennium Development Goals, there seems to be strong political will for continued progress, along with interesting data that suggest ending poverty may be possible in our lifetime. While the statistics show a dramatic drop in poverty over the last 30 years, serious challenges remain.
How can economic growth benefit more people? What will it take to double the share of renewables in the global energy mix? Will the world have enough food for everyone by 2050? You can hear what experts have to say on these topics and others, ask questions, and weigh in at more than 20 webcast events from Oct. 7 to 11. That's when thousands of development leaders gather in Washington for the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings. Several events will be live-blogged or live-tweeted in multiple languages. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter with #wblive and other hashtags connected to events. We’ve compiled a sampling of events and hashtags below. Check out the full schedule or download the Annual Meetings app for Apple devices and Android smartphones.
On Sept. 1, leading football stars from multiple faiths will come together to play in a watershed Interreligious Match for Peace, supported by Connect4Climate of the World Bank Group.
At its best, sport possesses the power to bring out the best of the human spirit, particularly in moments when athletes display remarkable teamwork and sportsmanship. By affirming shared aspirations, religion and sport share the profound capacity to bring people together across the boundaries of race, nationality, income, and more.
In September 2000, world leaders committed to the Millennium Development Goals.
Until then, few dared to imagine goals such as eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, universalizing access to education or reducing maternal mortality would be possible. Now, with 500 days left before the end of 2015, the MDGs are less a leap of imagination and more of a challenge that many leaders feel is within reach.
July 18 is Mandela Day when we honor Nelson Mandela’s legacy of service and commitment to social justice, including the fight against extreme poverty. July 18 marks his birthday, the first one since his death in December at the age of 95. The day offers an opportunity to reflect on Mandela’s transformative impact on the world, the power of an individual to change the course of history, and his enduring legacy in the fight against extreme poverty.