World Is More Than 450 Years off Target From Meeting Child Poverty Promise

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Jan. 15, 2017) — The world is 452 years away from delivering on the promise of ending extreme child poverty, new figures commissioned by Save the Children show. This timescale of four and half centuries is as far removed from present day as the start of the nation’s first permanent European settlement in St. Augustine Fla., more than 200 years before American independence.

World leaders pledged to bring an end to extreme poverty by 2030 in the Sustainable Development Goals agreed upon at the United Nations in New York in 2015. But at the current rate of progress, the last child projected to leave extreme poverty will not do so until 2482 – 18 generations later than the global target.

This child will live in sub-Saharan Africa, a region which, by 2030, is expected to account for almost 90 percent of the 167 million children globally living on less than $1.90 a day, the threshold for measuring extreme poverty.

The stark findings come ahead of this week’s annual gathering of world leaders in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum, where the theme is "Responsive and Responsible Leadership." The need for an intensified focus on the Sustainable Development Goals, including the eradication of poverty, is expected to be an important part of the discussions ahead of a year of political and economic uncertainty.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of the Save the Children International and a co-chair of this year’s World Economic Forum said: "It is unforgiveable that at the current rate of progress, the world will not eradicate extreme poverty for eighteen generations – thereby breaking its promise to millions of vulnerable children. In Davos next week, I will be making clear to world leaders that if we are to embody responsible leadership, we must reach every last child. We can and must do better – including by expanding access to good quality health and education, and ensuring that governments commit money within their national budgets to reducing child poverty. The world has already approved a blueprint for solving this crisis, so now we must get on with it."

More than three-quarters of a billion (767 million) people were estimated by the World Bank to be extremely poor in 2013, of which 385 million (half) are children. Because poorer families have more children, children are twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty – with extreme poverty rates of 19.5 percent for children, against 9.2 percent for adults.

President & CEO of Save the Children USA Carolyn Miles said, "Child poverty is a vicious cycle. Being poor makes it less likely that you’ll learn in school, more likely that you’ll fall ill, and exposes children to much higher risks of early marriage, child labor and exploitation – disadvantages that millions of children carry into adulthood and pass on to the next generation. This is both unfair and hugely costly for societies. This is just as true for children in the U.S. as it is for kids around the world. By making smart investments now, we can break the inter-generational poverty trap, and lay the foundations for a more stable and prosperous world. In an age of unprecedented resources and know-how, there is no excuse for any child to grow up in poverty."

Poor children are more likely to die before the age of five, and to suffer from stunting and malnutrition. They’re less likely to go to school, complete school or learn in school. They’re also more likely to be forced into harmful work and early and forced marriage, and to be exploited through prostitution and trafficking. This has a long-term impact on their development and also means that their own children are more likely to be poor.

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.


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