#45 End Poverty – by being fit for purpose

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Image by United Nations

It is my final blog for the year and I have enjoyed exploring the seventeen Sustainability Development Goals (SDG’s) within the year of 2017. My love of counting down is well established in both my personal and professional life. The SDGs and Target one Reducing Poverty is definitely a worthy one to be presented as the final countdown.

In a world that is moving very fast I argue that we have no excuse to have members of society experiencing poverty. Even with all the knowledge and wide sources of data/evidence around the topic of poverty there continues to be an increase, particularly in new forms of poverty. In its simplest form society can only flourish and is only as strong as its weakest link. How can we rate that all is well in the world where evidence is readily available on how nearly half the world’s poor are now children – that’s 689m young people. These statistics are extremely disturbing and when children are the future generation, to end poverty must be considered in all its forms.

“There are diverse and complementary ways of measuring poverty and, often, one measure alone does not provide the full picture”.

Poverty has relevancy by experiencing deprivation in health, education and living standards all  described as being ‘multidimensionally poor’. The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index is used to better understand those who are multidimensionally poor and in doing this draws awareness to the important indicators that go beyond income. In some respect the improved understanding of the wider remit around poverty goes some of the way to explain why poverty has increased.

For all cohorts of society there are pressing demands and from my enquiries I found that multidimensional poverty is not always top of everyone’s concern. In an article expressing how poverty and climate change are as much of a threat as terrorism to our young people I noted how those not experiencing multidemensionally poor had more pressing concerns ie terrorism.

“The stereotypes of young people, particularly teenagers, are that they are disengaged from society, and not focused on national, let alone international, issues. But that couldn’t be further than the truth”.

The young people sampled within an inquiry revealed that out of the following problems terrorism trumped everything:

  • Climate change
  • Economic instability
  • International terrorism
  • Poverty
  • War
  • Availability of energy
  • Population growth
  • Spread of nuclear weapons
  • Infectious diseases.

To do a similar survey even a decade ago the answer would possibly have been different. Likewise asking earlier generations at the turn of last century their greatest fears and issues such as war and infectious diseases may have been more prevalent. Although the world has changed many of the issues continue to be of concern but demand different ways of tackling them and poverty is no different. Following the April 2017 speech of Jim Yong Kim (World Bank Group President) in considering how investments must shift from being a lender to reinvent a broker format, even The World Bank must reinvent it’s practice. Others argue as The World bank reinvents itself – and puts poverty reduction at risk. These arguments are often based on a cause and effect scenario where one action such as privatization of water can unintentionally create health inequalities. There is a common point of agreement where structural operations of The World Bank such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Development Association (IDA) are no longer fit for purpose primarily due to having been designed and formed in mid last century.

“The World Bank therefore risks becoming irrelevant unless it reacts to these trends. Moreover, since its founding articles of agreement define the bank as an institution that facilitates private sector investment, its role as a finance broker does correspond to its core mandate.”

“The most important question to ask is thus whether the private sector does enough for people living in poverty or in highly unequal societies, rather than vice versa.”

To me this brings the debate of reducing poverty to consider more foundational issues such as a focus on livings standards. Having the right environment to live within makes health and education improvement more feasible. It is to this end that I found many areas often classed as not suffering from intense multidimensional poverty were creating situations that led to unsatisfactory outcomes. The fast pace ever changing world that we live in is also becoming one of minimization and a good example of how this impacts on poverty is the increase of high density apartment living. It has been argued that this is why apartment living is different for the poor.

 Among many issues the challenges for what I describe as ‘urban living developed country poverty’ is more around the fact that some have less choices than those living in properties that are better designed, constructed or located.

“Lower-income renters are also likely to be over-represented in poorly maintained buildings, as these are usually cheaper to rent. Compared to a detached house, maintenance in higher-density properties is complicated by the complexity of the buildings themselves and the governance structures.”

It is almost like this new norm of high-density living is promoting inequality which leads to an increase in the multidimensional poor. Having started this Blog with sharing my fears and concerns with statistics around children living in poverty and with much support for ending all poverty I bring the conversation back to children

This time it is how creative thought is required to make sustainable long-term change and where better place to start than where a human is at their most creative – children and play. Although a few years ago Collective Evolution shared a story where They Put A Pre-School In A Nursing Home And It Changed Everyone’s Life. 

 This story describes the benefits for all concerned.

Even though the example represented one of the wealthy countries (USA) the facts of an aging population are universal and quite astounding and adding to the already complex dimensions of multidimensional poor.

“43% of older adults experience social isolation, which is closely correlated with loneliness and depression, as well as mental and physical decline. The number of adults aged 65 years and older is expected to double within the next 25 years.”

In support of the global goal of reducing poverty the key essence of this Blog is to not attempt this goal in a linear form nor to operate as if it is simply an issue for those countries that are not as wealthy. Poverty and particularly multidimensional poor are issues that confront all societies. Placing a pre-school in a nursing home creates the kind of example of non-linear thinking that will be required to truly shift the needle on the poverty agenda.

In all actions we take where there is some connection with experiencing multidimensional poor, there is a shared responsibility to ensure actions do not add to the dimensions in a negative way. To this end, it could be as straightforward as child’s play!




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