Annual day to mark fight against poverty takes on new significance as COVID-19 pushes millions into destitution

As many as 100 million people could slip into poverty this year


New York, 16 October—Prospects for fully eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 now appear highly unlikely, even under the most optimistic scenarios, according to a new policy brief issued by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, as the world sets to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October.

According to the brief on “The long-term impact of the COVID-19 crisis on poverty,” even with accelerated economic growth and reductions in inequality, ending extreme poverty has become increasingly elusive, even under the most upbeat assumptions.

The brief also found that stagnation in economic growth and a rise in inequality can easily push countries with persistent poverty, such as the least developed countries, even further behind.

“It is no longer unimaginable that the global number of people living in extreme poverty will continue to go up in the coming years,” the report concluded, “pulling hundreds of millions of people into extreme vulnerability, if the horrendous consequences of the pandemic for developing countries are not effectively managed.”

The brief was released as the United Nations prepares to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty with civil society groups. This year, as COVID-19 has exacerbated social inequalities and economic hardships, the International Day is focusing on the theme of “Acting Together to Achieve Social and Environmental Justice for All”.

The International Day is an important occasion to examine progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted unanimously by world leaders in 2015. The Agenda recognizes that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for the achievement of inclusive and peaceful societies.

Even before the pandemic, the progress on addressing income poverty was not being matched by advances in other important dimensions, such as the rapidly growing impact of environmental crises on poverty, within a more holistic approach. People living in poverty are disproportionately affected by the adverse impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.

The International Day brings attention to people living in extreme poverty, who, often through sheer necessity, are the first to respond decisively within their communities to poverty, climate change and environmental challenges. Their efforts and experience as well as their ability to contribute positively to solutions continue to be overlooked.

Commemoration of the Day

To commemorate the Day, a global digital event will take place virtually on Saturday, 17th October, hosted by the International Movement ATD Fourth World and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), with the support of the Permanent Missions of Burkina Faso and France to the UN, the International Committee for October 17 and the UN NGO Committee for Social Development.

Masters of Ceremony:  Ms. Magdalena Sepulveda, Executive Director, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Ms. Quane Hargrove, educator and ATD Fourth World activist

Speakers (via video message): 

  • António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General,
  • Aye Aye Win, President, International Committee for October 17,
  • Collective message from people with experience of poverty in Latin America, expressing that the only sustainable justice reconciles social justice and environmental justice,
  • Nicolas De Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations,
  • Video message from people with experience of poverty in the Democratic Republic of Congo, facing devastating floods but acting within their community to resist and rebuild together,
  • Video message from activists with experience of poverty in Belgium, engaged in a participatory process with a Belgian federal agency on the theme of sustainability,
  • Yemdaogo Eric Tiare, Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso to the United Nations,
  • Samson Itegboje, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, on behalf of the Alliance for Poverty Eradication
  • Isabelle Pypaert-Perrin, Director General, International Movement ATD Fourth World.



About the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Through resolution 47/196 adopted on 22 December 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, as appropriate in the national context, concrete activities with regard to the eradication of poverty and destitution.

The Day presents an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts and struggles of people living in poverty, a chance for them to make their concerns heard, and a moment to recognize that people living in poverty are the first ones to fight against poverty. Participation of those living in poverty has been at the centre of the Day’s observance since its inception and reflects the willingness of people living in poverty to use their expertise to contribute to its eradication.

UN DESA Policy Brief on the impact of COVID-19 on poverty and inequality can be found at:


Media contacts

UN Department of Global Communications

Sharon Birch-Jeffrey, T: +1 212 963 0564 | E:

UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)
Michal Szymanski, T: +1 (718)-753-6336 | E:

International Movement ATD Fourth World

Monica Jahangir-Chowdhury, T: +1 (929) 228-7996 | E: