SEATTLE, Washington — In 2000, the first year of the new millennium, the United Nations brought world leaders together to form what are now know as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The eight goals were dedicated to combating world poverty, hunger, disease and mortality among other disparities. By the 2015 goal year, there has been significant progress made in the global community. Hoping to culminate new success and continue building upon the progress of the MDGs, the U.N. General Assembly brought together a group to develop new proposals for future U.N. goals in 2013.
In 2015, at the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit, U.N. members gathered to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The adoption of this agenda committed U.N. members to a set of 17 new goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs are aimed at targeting crucial issues involving people, the planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. The first goal, and one of the most pressing issues facing the world, is to “End poverty in all its forms everywhere.” This year marks the fifth year of the new Sustainable Development Goals. It’s important to assess the success of the first SDG while considering the progress that still needs to be made.
The First Sustainable Development Goal
The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals of 2019 Report shows that there is still quite a bit of work to be done. “Progress against poverty continues, but has slowed…,more than one third of employed workers in sub-Saharan Africa still live on less than $1.90 a day…,social protection systems fall short of reaching the world’s most vulnerable people…and the toll of climate-related disasters is rising.”
Despite the progress made with the MDGs, the first Sustainable Development Goal aims to fill in the gaps that still exist in global poverty reduction. To achieve this, the first SDG has seven objectives including those to eradicate extreme poverty, create policy frameworks to mitigate poverty at every level of government, mobilize resources and implement social protection systems.
Initiatives to Eradicate Global Poverty
When it comes to initiatives that accelerate the progress of the first SDG, the United Nation’s message is clear: anyone can help. This has led to hundreds of NGO partnerships and initiatives working to achieve the objectives of the first SDG. In fact, there are more than 700 active initiatives dedicated to eradicating global poverty. These initiatives include everything from local programs to international nonprofits and NGOs. They target deforestation, malnutrition, community mobilization, youth education, food security, global health and the well-being of women and children. The goals show recognition that poverty is not a one-solution problem but a multidimensional issue that requires coordinated action at all levels of government.
Each year, to reemphasize the global commitment to poverty eradication, the United Nations celebrates the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This day commemorates the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the progress the U.N. has made to eliminate global poverty. The Convention focuses on the needs of children and mitigating the devastating effects that poverty can have on them.
SDG Acceleration Actions
In 2019, to accelerate the progress of the existing initiatives, the United Nations encouraged stakeholders to adopt so-called accelerated actions. “‘SDG Acceleration Actions’ are initiatives voluntarily undertaken to accelerate the SDG implementation by national governments and any other non-state actors,” according to the U.N. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platforms. The actions may include the new programs, policies and projects enacted to support the new SDGs.
Several countries made major commitments, announcing “more than 100 acceleration actions.” Data4Now is one such initiative. Data4Now addresses the importance of “accurate, timely, and comprehensive data to make the SDGs an actionable framework.” Our World in Data, a scientific publication, records and publishes data about major global issues. In 2018, the organization developed the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Tracker in an effort to record the advances the U.N. has made regarding the SDGs.
According to the SDG tracker, the number of people in extreme poverty, those living on less $1.90 a day, has decreased since the adoption of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, there has been a decline in the number of countries in which more than 50 percent of the population suffers from poverty. Among those making progress include countries such as Chile, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan and Costa Rica.
Yet, despite measurable progress, the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres shared at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development that “we are far from where we need to be. […] Deadly conflicts, the climate crisis, gender-based violence and persistent inequalities are undermining efforts to achieve the Goals.”
Ending poverty in all its forms is no simple task. However, with the help of the global community, ranging from individuals at the local level to massive stakeholders at the international level, substantial progress can continue to provide resources and hope to those who need it most.
– Aly Hill