Highlights Vol 24, No. 10 - October 2020

The eradication of poverty is more pressing than ever

“Ending extreme poverty is at the heart of the world’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and build a sustainable future for all”, says UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Despite this, and the coming commemoration of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October, this man-made crisis persists.

Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the extent of the underlying social and environmental inequities besetting our societies. It has revealed our hesitant and dismal collective efforts in addressing the interconnected issues of extreme poverty, social inequities and the environment. The need to address all the global goals has never been clearer.

A future with poverty is unsustainable. Symptoms of impoverishment range from the 1.4 million people dying each year from preventable diseases associated with poor sanitation and lack of access to clean drinking water, to the adverse impact environmental damage has on communities, even as it threatens to push humanity further into poverty.  

On the UN’s 75th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development, we commemorate a day to eradicate poverty just as a pandemic is exacerbating it. Homelessness makes victims vulnerable to the virus. Families experiencing extreme poverty are forced to live in overcrowded sub substandard housing with inadequate access to clean water and proper sanitation. Their children cannot access the tools and support needed to pursue their education during periods of lockdown. Millions of children who no longer receive school meals are going hungry.

Too often, these communities’ ability to contribute positively to solutions is overlooked; they are not recognized as drivers of change, and their voices are not heard, locally or globally. 

International day to be commemorated virtually

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty offers an opportunity to hear from those who are at the forefront of fighting poverty and resisting the impact of global crises.

On 17 October, an online global commemoration will feature video messages from those living in poverty and facing adversity, as well as messages from the UN Secretary-General and other international actors. These will show that social injustice and environmental injustice often go hand-in-hand. The solutions are therefore also closely linked, and their implementation requires the mobilization of all sectors of society.

Join the discussion by using #EndPoverty

For more information about the Day, please visit this page and follow @UNDESA, @UNDESASocial on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Responding today for a better tomorrow

UN DESA entered 2020 with a concrete plan of action, placing it on firm footing to respond quickly to the needs of Member States, when the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly upended our daily lives. “In responding to this emergency, the Department immediately pivoted our intellectual resources toward understanding and projecting the real and potential socioeconomic fallout of the pandemic and identifying policy recommendations and concrete actions for Member States to consider,” stated Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin in the newly released UN DESA Highlights 2019-2020 report.

The report presents an overview of the support UN DESA has continued to provide to Member States to advance sustainable development, even amidst a global pandemic.

Covering the period of the 74th session of the General Assembly (September 2019-August 2020) the volume showcases UN DESA’s broad expertise across many areas critical to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and demonstrates the Department’s well-structured and integrated work towards sustainable development for all.

As the secretariat to the High-level Political Forum for sustainable development, and as a docking station for financing for sustainable development, UN DESA began the 74th session of the General Assembly by providing critical support to the outcomes of the SDG Summit, High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development and the High-level Midterm review of Implementation of the SAMOA Pathway.

“Our increased focus, in UN DESA publications, on identifying and forecasting the trajectory of persistent and emerging social, economic, demographic, political and environmental megatrends, and on tracking and forecasting their impact on sustainable development, proved a valuable asset as the United Nations sought to shape the multilateral response to the social and economic impacts of intersecting crises,” said Mr. Liu.

“Working with stakeholders across the international community, we will continue to push forward evidence-based policies and build the capacities […] for moving the world towards sustainable development for all.”

UN DESA has come through the period of the 74th General Assembly seeing its impact and relevance grow across the international development sphere. With the 75th session of the General Assembly now underway, UN DESA will build on these achievements to help the world recover better and forge ahead in the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Access the UN DESA Highlights 2019-2020 report here.

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