18 September 2009

Greater Hardships Ahead as Global Economic Crisis Persists, Says Report of New United Nations ‘Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System’

18 September 2009
Press Release
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Greater Hardships Ahead as Global Economic Crisis Persists, Says Report


of New United Nations ‘Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System’


The severity and pervasive character of the economic crisis continues to push millions of people into poverty and is reversing some of the hard-won development gains of the past decade, states a new United Nations report on the impact of the crisis.

The report, entitled Voices of the Vulnerable: the Economic Crisis from the Ground Up, provides a sobering picture of how the crisis is affecting people and households around the world.  The key message of the report is that, while we may be seeing the “green shoots” of recovery, the economic crisis is not over for hundreds of millions of people around the globe.

The report is part of a larger United Nations initiative called the Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System, referred to as GIVAS.  GIVAS is being developed to provide early, real-time data to the international community on how external shocks, such as the economic crisis, are affecting the welfare of the vulnerable and poor.  GIVAS will fill the information gap that currently exists between the time when a global crisis impacts vulnerable populations and when decision makers get information through existing channels.

As part of the new initiative to monitor and draw attention to emerging crises, the report provides a realistic assessment of the social and economic impact of the current crisis and highlights key areas to watch.  The report warns that the “near poor” are in danger of becoming the “new poor”.  It also cites estimates that, due to the crisis, 100 million more people are likely to have been pushed below the poverty line.  Global unemployment could also increase by up to 61 million between 2007 and 2009.

Over the past year, the report finds, there has been an increase of 100 million people suffering from hunger, while infant mortality may increase by an additional 200,000 to 400,000 each year from now to 2015, if the crisis persists.  The evidence, drawn primarily from the data collected and analysed by the broader United Nations system, also indicates that “the clock is running out on the coping strategies of the vulnerable and poor.  Many options, such as dipping into savings or selling assets, have been exhausted by previous crises or were non-existent in the first place,” says the Secretary-General on the dangers facing poor and vulnerable communities.

The report warns that we need to be on the watch for new red flags that may signal further trouble.  Policymakers need to watch for the further spread and evolution of the H1N1 influenza pandemic to countries already devastated by the economic crisis or the onset of new natural disasters that may be the last straw breaking the back of overstretched populations and Governments.

The release of the report coincides with the start of the sixty-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York and precedes the meeting of the G-20, which is scheduled to take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Both forums will address the issue of the continuing crisis and the report will provide a powerful reminder of the important work ahead of the international community to protect not only the poor and vulnerable but also the increasing number of middle class families slipping into poverty.

For further information, please contact:  Kevin Cassidy, Executive Office of the Secretary-General, tel.:  212 963 3298, or e-mail

As of 23 September, the report and supporting materials will be available online at

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.