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HLP: We could be the generation to end extreme poverty

By Kate Dooley, Senior Advocacy Adviser – Post-2015 & Multilateral Institutions

It sounds impossible: a world free from extreme poverty, in which no child is born to die, no child goes to bed hungry and every child receives nutritious food, quality healthcare and a good education.

This has long been Save the Children’s vision, but it could now become a reality.

The future of development

A special panel of world leaders has just handed in their recommendations to the UN Secretary-General on the future of global sustainable development and they, too, believe that ending extreme poverty by 2030 is possible.

At a time of weak international cooperation, many of us feared that this panel, co-chaired by David Cameron and the presidents of Indonesia and Liberia, would deliver a bland, unambitious report that would fail to inspire governments, civil society, or  the private sector.

But they’ve done it. The report strikes a fine balance between ambition and pragmatism, offering a robust case that we can be the generation to end extreme poverty, hunger and preventable child deaths and put the world on a more equitable and sustainable path.

A varied panel

This success owes much to the composition and commitment of the panel itself.

African and Asian representatives have learned from their own development experience, as well as from the European economic crisis, and have fought to ensure an emphasis on sharing the benefits of growth, reducing inequalities and transforming economies to help lift their people out of poverty.

The Latin Americans, representing large emerging economies, ensured a truly universal framework, with responsibilities for all nations to deliver a more sustainable and cleaner future for us all.

And all parties delivered a critical focus on the necessities of human development:  health, education, nutrition, water.

Save the Children is particularly pleased to see the panel proposing global targets to end extreme income poverty, preventable child and maternal deaths and hunger, and to eliminate violence against women and children and ensure  more open, transparent and accountable governance.

The report also makes clear that equitable progress across different income and social groups needs to be tracked – and that the panel will not have achieved its aims until all of these different groups have benefitted.

Tackling inequalities

Inequalities due to gender, age, disability, location or income are the biggest challenge to development progress and inequality can be a matter of life and death: in Nigeria, for example, the poorest children are twice as likely to die of preventable causes than the richest.

This is an unacceptable state of affairs and we commend the panel for tackling such inequalities head on.

Room for a more robust position

The report is not as strong as we would have liked in some areas. We had hoped for a clearer emphasis on universal health coverage (see separate blog).

We wanted a target for reducing income inequality, as well as more emphasis on disaster risk reduction, given the increasing numbers of climate-related disasters, which disproportionately affect those in poverty.

Nevertheless, we urge governments to heed these ambitious proposals as they deliberate on future global development goals. With less than 1,000 days until the Millennium Development Goals expire, governments must decide on the ambitions that will guide us all to 2030. The panel has delivered a vision that can speak to governments the world over. And it’s time for them to listen.

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