The global community is making important strides to reduce extreme poverty. However, despite substantial progress, about one in five people worldwide still lives on less than $1.25 a day. To renew commitments, show solidarity and make sure no one is left behind, the United Nations will commemorate the 2014 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty at UN Headquarters in New York on 17 October.
“While poverty levels have declined significantly, progress has been uneven. Our impressive achievement in cutting poverty by half should not blind us to the fact that more than 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty worldwide,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message as the day was commemorated last year.
“Too many, especially women and girls, continue to be denied access to adequate health care and sanitation, quality education and decent housing. Too many young people lack jobs and the skills that respond to market demands. Rising inequality in many countries — both rich and poor — is fuelling exclusion from economic, social and political spheres, and we know that the impacts of climate change and loss of biodiversity hit the poorest the hardest. All of this underpins the need for strong and responsive institutions,” the Secretary-General said.
“While poverty levels have declined significantly, progress has been uneven. Our impressive achievement in cutting poverty by half should not blind us to the fact that more than 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty worldwide”
The observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty can be traced back to 17 October 1987. On that day, over a hundred thousand people gathered at the Trocadéro in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to honour the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger. They proclaimed that poverty is a violation of human rights and affirmed the need to come together to ensure that these rights are respected. In 1992, the General Assembly declared 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and invited all States to devote the Day to presenting and promoting concrete activities with regard to the eradication of poverty and destitution.
This year’s commemoration will be organized in partnership with the International Movement ATD Fourth World, the NGO Sub-committee for the Eradication of Poverty and UN DESA, supported by the Missions of France and Burkina Faso to the United Nations. A commemorative event will be held on Friday, 17 October in Conference Room 2 of the Conference Building from 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm. Additionally, a ten-part exhibition of collective artwork by people living in poverty will be featured in the 1B Corridor to the Vienna Cafe from 13 to 17 October. Each collection shows how the human act of creation — whether by rousing strength and hope, or bestowing a peaceful calm – helps people to hold their heads high, to come together in dignity, and to leave no one behind.
Leaving no one behind
The 2014 theme, “Leave no one behind: think, decide and act together against extreme poverty,” recognizes and underscores the demanding challenge of identifying and securing the participation of those experiencing extreme poverty and social exclusion in the post-2015 development agenda.
“The United Nations and the World Bank and all of us can end extreme poverty from this earth, to save everybody and to leave nobody behind. That is our priority and vision,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated earlier this year as he addressed an End Poverty Call to Action Event in Washington, D.C. taking place alongside the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The call to “Leave no one behind” points to the urgent need to eliminate discrimination, marginalization and exclusion based on poverty, ethnic origin, gender, age, disability or economic and social status. It will require concerted action to actively reach out to the most impoverished and excluded groups in our societies. At the core of such action must be the alignment of development policies and targets, and their implementation, with human rights norms and standards, in keeping with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. As the Secretary-General has also said, “we must not fail the billions who look to the international community to fulfil the promise of the Millennium Declaration for a better world”.
Think, decide and act together against extreme poverty
The call “to think, decide and act together against extreme poverty” highlights the need to include people living in poverty as partners in building our understanding and knowledge of more sustainable forms of development. Local, national and international institutions must create genuine participatory mechanisms, with accountability and grievance mechanisms at all levels, while working as partners with communities to strengthen their own support organisations.
“The post-2015 development agenda calls for a single development framework with poverty reduction and sustainable development at its core”
UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General
In particular, we must promote and support an inclusive, equitable and sustainable economy. That is, an economy that protects the environment, fosters the creation of full employment and decent work opportunities for all, and ensures high quality education and healthcare with improved results for all, including people living in extreme poverty.
“The post-2015 development agenda calls for a single development framework with poverty reduction and sustainable development at its core. Development, however, will only be fully sustainable when its economic, environmental and social dimensions are integrated in a balanced way,” stressed UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo as he addressed the Commission for Social Development earlier this year.
Ultimately, the success of the post-2015 development agenda will depend on the full and meaningful participation of all people, actively supported by increased commitments at the political, economic, social and cultural levels in all countries.
In addition to the commemorative events to be held in New York on 17 October, celebrations of this international day are being organized worldwide. People from all corners of the world are also encouraged to help the United Nations to raise awareness about progress made and the challenges that remain in the fight against poverty. The online community is asked to use #EndPoverty to share messages about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the post-2015 development agenda and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty via social media. The online community is also encouraged to show their support by signing up to ATD Fourth World’s campaign on Thunderclap “Join the fight to #EndPoverty!“