Date Archives November 2015

Progress in poverty reduction

This year marks a halfway point in world poverty reduction. In 2000 a global goal was declared halve extreme poverty by 2015, based on levels present in 1990. This goal was reached in 2010, five years ahead of schedule. By 2030 the new goal set by the majority of countries is to end extreme poverty. This would mean just 3% of people in the world would be considered extremely poor.

This 2030 projection requires a continuous economic growth of 4% per year worldwide. This optimistic scenario would have its peaks and valleys. The African continent, for example, would still have a 14% extreme poverty level. Other countries would have poverty rates well under 1%.

One of the key challenges to end extreme poverty is to de-couple economic growth from environmental degradation. The countries with the highest poverty levels just happen to depend on the exploitation of natural resources, whether in the form of forests, agricultural products, minerals or fossil fuels.

From a sustainability standpoint, the greatest challenge these countries have is to diversify their economies to achieve economic growth and reduce their contribution to global warming that would result in even more damage to the natural resources they depend on before they get hit by drought, hurricanes or other natural disasters.

The annual cost of environmental degradation — stemming from air, water and land pollution — increased 50% between 1990 and 2010. Only 25% of world’s countries, mainly the richer countries, achieved economic growth while reducing their environmental impact.

Source: Ending Extreme Poverty and Sharing Prosperity: Progress and Policies. World Bank Group. October, 2015.

Sustainable economic development assessment (SEDA)

Since 1934, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been the single metric used to evaluate countries’ progress. This year, the Boston Consulting Group created a new progress evaluation system called Sustainable Economic Development Assessment (SEDA). Based on 50,000 different types of data points publicly available in areas like health, environmental protection, and freedom of expression, and grouped in ten different categories, SEDA measures people’s well-being, not only their country’s economic output.




In their third SEDA edition 140 countries were compared. Poland showed a stronger sustainable growth than China. The European country performed well in employment, governability, civic society and the environment. Its Asian counterpart, showed a strong economic growth. However, it has one of the lowest scores in environmental protection.
Out of the top ten highest ranking countries, with the exception of Singapore, all are European countries. These top countries have been capable of turning economic gain into tangible benefits for their population. Countries like Mexico and the US fell behind other countries in their capacity to create progress for their citizens.