On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, UN calls for more investment in a common future

17 Oct 2012

United Nations officials have called for an investment in inclusive social services that are capable of reducing poverty and turning inequalities into opportunities for promoting economic growth, at a high-level forum to mark the 2012 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The event brought together more than 200 representatives from 20 countries, including government leaders, policy makers, development practitioners, and other members of the international community, to identify solutions to remaining poverty challenges in China and the world.

“Inclusive development is critical to addressing the problems of income inequality and disparities in education, social security, employment and health,” declared UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an address that was delivered at the forum by Ms. Renata Dessallien, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.       

In a brief but direct address, Mr. Ban also recognised that as governments continue to struggle to balance budgets, funding for anti-poverty measures has increasingly come under threat. But he pointed out that it is in times of austerity when the poor are most in need of social services, income security, decent work and social protection. Participants were also encouraged to sustain efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals alongside any post-2015 agenda.   

The 2012 International Poverty Reduction and Development Forum has developed close links with the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and is the sixth such event to be held on this day in China. The aim of the day and the forum is to ensure the voice of the poor is heard, with the theme for this year’s event focusing on ‘Inclusive Development and Poverty Reduction’ – half a billion people have been lifted out of poverty from 1990 to 2008 but many still lack access to social services and 13% of people in China; 36% in South Asia, and 14% in East Asia still live on less than $1.25 a day.

Despite encountering the worst global economic crisis since the 1930’s and the biggest food-price increases since the 1970’s, the forum also provided an opportunity to discuss the many positives that have emerged from poverty reduction efforts, especially in China. With 600 million people lifted out of poverty since 1978, the need to consolidate regional progress in poverty reduction by sharing China’s rich experiences with other developing countries was highlighted.

Co-hosted by the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development of China (LGOP) and the UN System in China, and co-organised by International Poverty Reduction Centre in China and UNDP China, the event was opened by Minister Fan Xiaojian, LGOP Director and event Chairperson. H.E. Mr. Hui Liangyu, Vice-Premier of China, and Mr. Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs addressed the forum.

Having only taken up his new position as head of the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs in August this year, Mr. Wu addressed the forum with a deep understanding of the task that lies ahead. He spoke of growing poverty in middle income countries and a shift in income distribution and inequality among women and youth. He also spoke of his commitment to a world without poverty and of a historic mission to improve access to social services.

“In observing this day, we have much to celebrate but even as we mark our success in reaching a milestone in poverty reduction, I am keenly aware that the journey to end poverty continues,” said Mr. Wu. “We need a multi-pronged strategy that ensures continued investment in economic growth, job creation, and increased income for all”.

The morning session of this influential global platform included a panel discussion led by Ms. Dessallien, on China’s poverty reduction structure and policy change in the first decade of the new century, latest international trends and challenges in responding to poverty, and promoting inclusive development and environmental sustainability. Parallel sessions were held in the afternoon on social protection and integrating approaches to poverty to increase their impact.

A number of high level government officials and internationally renowned experts were invited to join these sessions and contribute global knowledge on poverty reduction and development, including Winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Economics and Harvard University Professor, Dr. Amartya Sen, and Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Indonesian State Minister for National Development Planning.