Despite the fact that the global poverty rate has been halved since 2000, intensified efforts are required to boost the incomes, alleviate the suffering and build the resilience of those individuals still living in extreme poverty, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa. Social protection systems need to be expanded and risks need to be mitigated for disaster-prone countries, which also tend to be the most impoverished.
- In 2013, an estimated 767 million people lived below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day — down from 1.7 billion people in 1999. That figure reflects a decrease in the global poverty rate from 28 per cent in 1999 to 11 per cent in 2013. The most significant progress was seen in Eastern and SouthEastern Asia, where the rate declined from 35 per cent in 1999 to 3 per cent in 2013. In contrast, 42 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa continued to subsist in conditions of extreme poverty in 2013.
- In 2016, just under 10 per cent of the world’s workers were living with their families on less than $1.90 per person per day, down from 28 per cent in 2000. In the least developed countries, nearly 38 per cent of workers in 2016 were living below the poverty line.
- Social protection systems are fundamental to preventing and reducing poverty and inequality at every stage of people’s lives, through benefits for children, mothers with newborns, persons with disabilities, older persons and thoses persons who are poor and without jobs. Preliminary data show that in 2016, only 45 per cent of the world’s population was effectively protected by a social protection system and that coverage varied widely across countries and regions.
- In 2016, 68 per cent of people above retirement age received a pension. However, that global average masks large regional differences. In Oceania, excluding Australia and New Zealand, and in sub-Saharan Africa, only 10 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively, of people above retirement age received a pension in 2016.
- Other vulnerable groups lack social protections as well. In 2016, only 28 per cent of people with severe disabilities collected disability benefits, only 22 per cent of unemployed individuals worldwide received unemployment benefits and only 41 per cent of women giving birth received maternity benefits.
- Building the resilience of the poor and strengthening disaster risk reduction is a core development strategy for ending extreme poverty in the most afflicted countries. Economic losses from disasters are now reaching an average of $250 billion to $300 billion a year. Disaster risk globally is highly concentrated in low- and lower-middle-income countries. In relation to the size of their economies, small island developing States have borne a disproportionate impact.
Source: Report of the Secretary-General, "Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals", E/2017/66
- Goal 1 calls for an end to poverty in all its manifestations by 2030. It also aims to ensure social protection for the poor and vulnerable, increase access to basic services and support people harmed by climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.
- The international poverty line is currently defined at $1.90 or below per person per day using 2011 United States dollars purchasing power parity (ppp). In the decade beginning in 2002, the proportion of the world’s population living below the poverty line dropped by half, from 26 per cent to 13 per cent. If growth rates during those 10 years prevail for the next 15 years, the global extreme poverty rate will likely fall to 4 per cent by 2030, assuming that growth benefits all income groups of the population equally. However, if the growth rates over the longer period of 20 years prevail, the global poverty rate will likely be around 6 per cent. In other words, eliminating extreme poverty will require a significant change from historical growth rates.
- In 2015, 10.2 per cent of the world’s workers were living with their families on less than $1.90 per person per day, down from 28 per cent in 2000. Young people are especially likely to be among the working poor: 16 per cent of all employed youth aged 15 to 24 were considered working poor, compared to 9 per cent of adults.
- Expanding social protection programmes and targeting appropriate schemes to the poor and most vulnerable can further reduce poverty. Social protection programmes include social assistance, such as cash transfers, school feeding and targeted food assistance, as well as social insurance and labour market programmes, including old-age pensions, disability pensions, unemployment insurance, skills training and wage subsidies, among others.
- Social protections have expanded globally since 2000, as many developing countries adopted policies that afford protection for multiple contingencies. Pension coverage in particular is expanding rapidly. Over half (51 per cent) of people above retirement age received a pension according to data available for the period from 2010 to 2012. Almost all countries have child or maternity benefit programmes, and cash transfer schemes are increasing.
- Despite progress over the past decade, increasing social protection for those most in need remains a priority. Globally, 18,000 children still die each day from poverty-related causes, and only 28 per cent of employed women are effectively protected through contributory and non-contributory maternity cash benefits. Most poor people remain outside social protection systems, especially in low-income countries. Of the entire population, only 1 out of 5 receive any type of social protection in low-income countries, compared with 2 out of 3 in upper-middle-income countries. The coverage gap is particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, where most of the world’s poorest people live. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 15 per cent of those in the bottom income quintile have access to a social protection benefit.
- Disaster risk reduction is essential to ending poverty and fostering sustainable development. Disaster risk is disproportionally higher in poorer countries with weaker institutions. In low- and lower-middle-income countries experiencing rapid economic growth, the exposure of people and assets to natural hazards is increasing at a faster pace than that at which risk-reducing capacities are being strengthened, leading to increased disaster risk.
- Economic losses from internationally reported disasters, principally large-scale disasters, have grown steadily since 1990, reaching an estimated annual average of $200 billion in 2013. Reported damage to housing, schools and health-care facilities, along with agricultural production, shows statistically significant upward trends from 1990 onwards.