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