Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, in New York today:
It is indeed a pleasure to be here today to observe the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. We have come a long way since the world first commemorated this Day twenty-five years ago. Nearly 1 billion people have been lifted out of poverty, thanks to political leadership, inclusive economic development and international cooperation.
However, too many are still being left behind. Ten per cent of the world’s population remain in extreme poverty. And in our world of plenty, more than 700 million people are unable to meet their basic daily needs.
Armed conflicts hinder further progress in poverty eradication — and can quickly undermine many hard-won gains. Discrimination and rising inequalities also pose major challenges. Women’s unequal access to opportunities has real impacts not just on their lives, but on families and communities as well. Youth, older people, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and migrants are also disproportionately affected.
And every year, disasters push millions of people around the world into poverty. More than ever, we can see the urgency of climate action and efforts to build resilient societies.
The deprivations that people living in poverty endure every day remind us that there is a fundamental connection between eradicating extreme poverty and upholding the equal rights of all people. Ending extreme poverty is not a matter of charity; it is a question of justice.
This year, as we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is timely to recall the Declaration’s proclamation of “freedom from want” as being among the highest aspirations of the world’s people.
In adopting and now implementing the 2030 Agenda, the international community recommitted itself to this aspiration, as embodied in the first of the Sustainable Development Goals: to “end poverty in all its forms, everywhere”.
Poverty is not inevitable. It is not a natural state of being or occurrence. It is most often the outcome of choices that societies have made. Today we must choose to build a fair globalization that creates opportunities for all. Inclusive growth supported by economic and social policies that empower people and provide equal opportunities make the difference.
We need policies that create a strong enabling economic environment and that promote access to education, health services, decent work and social protection to everybody. And we need policies that dismantle barriers that contribute to the perpetuation of poverty.
This International Day also honours the struggles and activism of people living in poverty. We must do more to listen to them, address the indignities they face and tackle the power structures that prevent their inclusion in society. Let us join hands to end poverty, advance human rights and uphold the core pledge of the 2030 Agenda: to leave no one behind. Thank you very much.