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.

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