Extreme Poverty Could End Within 20 Years, Save the Children Says

Extreme Poverty Could End Within 20 Years, Save the Children Says

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WESTPORT, Conn. (Jan. 8, 2013) - Although the world has made substantial progress over the last two decade - lifting 600 million people out of poverty, increasing child survival rates and helping 56 million more children to go to school – more work needs to be done to truly ensure a sustainable future for the world's poorest children, Save the Children said today.

An influential United Nations' panel, chaired by the presidents of Liberia and Indonesia and the UK Prime Minister (which includes John Podesta, former chief of staff for Clinton), meeting later this month has a unique opportunity to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, by outlining a concrete new development framework to replace the UN's Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015.

Save the Children's report, Ending Poverty in Our Generation, outlines a new development system, which, it says, can end extreme poverty in the next 20 years. It also includes one of the first proposals for new targets to replace the Millennium Development Goals.

Save the Children's Chief Executive Officer Carolyn Miles said: "With the 2015 deadline fast approaching, Save the Children is working globally to ensure that collectively, we learn the lessons of the current Millennium Development Goals and contribute to the evolution of an ambitious new global development framework."

The Millennium Development Goals were eight international targets adopted by every United Nations member state in 2000 with commitments to tackling global challenges such as extreme poverty, child deaths and a lack of education. Progress has been mixed, with some developing countries on track to achieve all targets and others looking unlikely to meet any.

Miles continued: "Our flagship report discusses what we believe are core priorities and identifies 10 key recommendations for fostering a post-2015 framework that emphasizes human development, equity, and accountability with a focus on our future – the children."

The report says the end of extreme poverty is now in sight because of remarkable progress made in improving the lives of millions. For example, the number of under-five deaths worldwide declined from nearly 12 million in 1990 to under 7 million in 2011, and an additional 56 million children enrolled in primary school from 1999 to 2009.

The report warns of three major threats to the process:

  • A failure to tackle inequality in the framework, which will mean progress will be too slow and some groups will be left behind.
  • A desire to cram too much into the framework leading to a lowest common denominator outcome.
  • A fragmented and already fractious political process at UN level

Notes to Editors

The High Level Panel, chaired by the President of Liberia H.E. Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Indonesia H.E. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the UK Prime Minister H.E. Mr. David Cameron, will meet in Monrovia, Liberia between Jan. 29 and Feb. 1, 2013. The US will be represented in the high level panel by John Podesta, former White House Chief of Staff to President William J. Clinton. He served in the president's cabinet and as a principal on the National Security Council. He was also a co-chairman of the Obama-Biden Transition Project and is currently the Chair of the Centre for American Progress.

As the High Level Panel prepares their agenda for Monrovia, Save the Children is today the first international non-governmental organization to put forward a proposed framework for consideration by the panel and governments around the world.

Save the Children proposes 10 goals

  • Goal 1: By 2030 we will eradicate extreme poverty and reduce relative poverty through inclusive growth and decent work
  • Goal 2: By 2030 we will eradicate hunger, halve stunting, and ensure universal access to sustainable food, water and sanitation
  • Goal 3: By 2030 we will end preventable child and maternal mortality and provide basic healthcare for all
  • Goal 4: By 2030 we will ensure children everywhere receive quality education and have good learning outcomes
  • Goal 5: By 2030 we will ensure all children live a life free from all forms of violence, are protected in conflict and thrive in a safe family environment
  • Goal 6: By 2030 governance will be more open, accountable and inclusive
  • Goal 7: By 2030 we will establish effective global partnerships for development
  • Goal 8: By 2030 we will build disaster-resilient societies
  • Goal 9: By 2030 we will ensure a sustainable, healthy and resilient environment for all
  • Goal 10: By 2030 we will deliver sustainable energy to all

The post-2015 framework should build on the strengths of the MDGs, including specific and measurable goals, targets and indicators. The framework should set common global aspirations (recognizing the importance of global cooperation) and allow countries to set national targets to suit their level of development.

The goals must achieve a balance of human development, economic development and environmental sustainability – the UN SG's 3 pillars of sustainable development – to ensure progress in human wellbeing is sustainable for future generations. We cannot reduce malnutrition without clean water. We cannot end preventable child deaths without educating girls.

The framework must also address some important gaps in the MDG framework, particularly:

  • Inequality. Eradicating poverty and preventable child deaths require a dedication to reaching the hardest to reach. Income inequality undermines long-term economic growth and inequalities between groups of people pose a barrier to further progress in human well-being
  • Accountability. The MDGs lacked a robust accountability mechanism. We propose a global mechanism to ensure global cooperation for global development and a national mechanism to support citizens holding their governments to account.
  • Outcomes. Some of the MDGs have been criticized for prioritizing access over outcomes. For example, while the current MDGs have rapidly improved school enrollment, in many schools those students are not actually learning.
  • Systems strengthening. The framework should promote strong service delivery systems that deliver for those populations that need them most. The current MDGs prioritize particular diseases for example and have diverted resources away from bigger health problems in some countries – a new framework must invest in both.

Read the report here: Ending Poverty in Our Generation

Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in more than 120 countries, including the United States. We aim to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. In times of acute crisis, we mobilize rapid assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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