Analyzing United Nations Development Goal #1

The United Nations released new Global Goals after reevaluating the progress made on their Millennium Goals which were set to be met by 2015. 

Although 1 billion people have been lifted out of poverty since 1990, there is still much work to be done to reach the ambitious ZERO poverty goal.  


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In 1990, UN delegates promised to cut the number of people living in extreme poverty in half by 2015, and this goal was met 5 years ahead of schedule. As a result, the number of children dying daily under the age of five has also been cut by more than half the previous rate. Take a bow, United Nations. 

Development organizations have been making progress to provide the world’s poor with opportunities to step out of the poverty trap and into the free market. Developing nations increased their economic growth rate from 4% to 6% per year, attributing to two-thirds of overall poverty alleviation. Measures to create more inclusive local economies and social safety nets have also played an integral role in meeting the Millennium Development Goal. 

But let’s not get too caught up in the victory parade. 

Today, 800 million people in the world are still struggling to survive on less than $1.25 a day, most of which live in Southeast Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa. Under the new Global Goals, the UN has set out to bring that number down to ZERO by 2030, while also bringing an end to food insecurity and malnutrition.  

An enormous barrier to progress is the fact that 52 million people have been uprooted by violence and forced to flee their homes since 2014.  Fragile war-torn states, such as Syria and the Central African Republic, have the highest poverty rates.  A society under siege cannot support any economic activity or stable educational systems. Poverty rates are expected to increase to 2.5% in the Middle East, and development programs cannot take hold until the ground has settled and peace returns to the area.   


Many institutions are critical of the 2030 aspirations, claiming that the lofty goals surpass available funding and the capacity of governments to meet them. In defense, the UN insists that setting goals will firmly establish the political agenda to bring millions more out of poverty.

Of the 1 billion who escaped poverty in the past 15 years, 680 million are attributed to China, who experienced a 7-9% GDP yearly growth rate. It will be much more difficult to find similar measures of success this time around because the people still living under $1.25 a day are victims of a poverty trap that only creative, sustainable solutions could break. 

While the IMF and World Bank will insist on using the markets liberalization as the driving force of economic prosperity, it has proven to actually increase inequality. There has been an 11% increase in inequality since 1990 in developing countries. Two-thirds of the households in the global South live in societies that have a greater income gap than ever before. 

Sustainable solutions offered by grassroot initiatives allow the local population to be independent in creating lasting improvements in their communities. Micro-finance, local agriculture, and cooperative business models all help in opening doors for the rural and urban poor. These integrated economic activities connect locals directly with the profit of their efforts and help them reinvest the results into improving infrastructure and education in their communities. 

To read more about the UN Global Goals and Goal #1: check out the link below.

Leslie RamosComment