Before we get started on our New Year’s resolutions, it’s worth evaluating past promises. In the year 2000, the UN began a 15-year period of “Millennium Development Goals”, and 2015 was the last year of that period. The eight goals included eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, reducing infant mortality, and promoting universal primary education. Progress has been patchy, with some countries meeting their goals and others doing poorly.

The UN has hailed the Millennium Development Goals as the “most successful anti-poverty campaign in history”. Worldwide, the number of people living in extreme poverty has indeed declined by more than half since 1990. However, robust economic growth in China arguably did more to lift people out of poverty. And not everybody has benefited; there is significant inequality between the poorest and richest, and between urban and rural areas.

We had a comment sent in by Christos asking why progress is so uneven. Specifically, he wants to know why more progress hasn’t been made in reducing poverty in Africa, despite it being one of the most oil and mineral rich continents on the planet. Poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has fallen since 2000, but much more slowly than in other regions, and it continues to hover at around 48%.

To get a reaction, we took Christos’ comment to Erik Solheim, former Norwegian Minister of International Development (2005-2012) and current Chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee. He responded by outlining what he believed were the steps needed to tackle poverty in many African countries:

eric-solheimNumber one, Africa needs full integration into the global economy. Many African countries still need to industrialise, and not enough progress has been made on this front. Second, there needs to be a very heavy focus on education. The experience of East Asia is a great success story in this respect. Thirdly, you need peace. If you don’t have peace, it’s not possible to develop. Teachers trained today may be killed tomorrow.

Resources on their own are no guarantee for success. In fact, they can be a barrier to development. The biggest success stories on the planet are resource-poor countries. There are no significant raw materials in South Korea, for example.

To get another perspective, we also put Christos’ comment to Tamira Gunzburg, Brussels Director of ONE, an international organisation campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. What would she say?

Supporters of the Millennium Development Goals argue that they did help to focus minds, and to put poverty and related issues on the global political agenda. So a new set of 17 goals has been set for 2030 – the “Sustainable Development Goals” – which aim to promote economic and human development whilst also combating climate change and protecting oceans and forests. Will they be successful?

We had a comment from Yannick, who questioned just how accurate the word “sustainable” was in the Sustainable Development Goals. What was Tamira Gunzburg’s opinion?

What’s the most effective way to fight global poverty? Why hasn’t more progress been made in reducing poverty in Africa, despite it being one of the most oil and mineral rich continents on the planet? And how “sustainable” are the UN Sustainable Development Goals? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – GlobalPartnership for Education

51 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Dóris Cavalcanti

    Stop the increasing population and the wars detroying to be rebuilt!
    It’s endless problems, UN-EU-USA have just used palliatives that have made even worse since people get more free time and energy to make more children and-or wars.
    I’ve asked several times to several UN-EU’s comissions and ZERO answer:
    What will be done about those root-factors?
    The african population will more than double until 2050:
    Page 1:

    Also, those adults making wars(destroying-rebuilding) today learned intolerance-irresponsibility-hatred-violence with their parents-people-culture-religion who didn’t care about what they were teaching to their children which could turn against themselves and others in the future. What has been done and will be done to stop these root factors?

    Until when we, workers-taxpayers, will be kept as slaves paying high taxes to support those who choose to live by making wars and-or children, choose to teach hatred-violence-irresponsibility to their children in an vicious circle, instead of spending their time and energy working and building their countries?

  2. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    It is no accident that the poorest countries also happen to be the least democratic so the only way is to remove the tyrants and run the country for them until they are capable of running it themselves, but the liberals in the west will not allow it for purely idealogical reasons.

    Thinking you can just ‘help’ them with money and charity is self delusion.

  3. avatar
    João Machado

    The US-EU-NATO are creating this state of constant poverty around the planet. So one more pointless question from on more EU propaganda channel…

  4. avatar
    Valentin Rotaru

    Yeah. They get better by themselves if you dont interfere with their economy and you help them FOR REAL not with stupid religion.

  5. avatar
    Erik Jakub Citterberg

    Do not donate to them things they do not need, give them money and built for them things they do need and give them things to produce things they need. Make them self-sufficient not reliant on you.

  6. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    EU is creating more damage than helping Africa . EU is sending money to Africa using church network . What church did in Africa was to build churches and using that power from the EU to install corrupt governments there . Using spider network from the church they use natural resources and people there . They just prevent their development . It is the same in Croatia . EU should have teams of experts that should find out how to help poor people there and use EU money to help them and not to install government there . Africans should have democracy and receive economic aid . This kind of people is never going to help poor and I know that from own experience , they just wants to have power and use you for own needs :

  7. avatar
    Darin Attard

    Poverty is caused by corporate greed, legislation pushed by them and globalization. Invest in these people, not deplete their resources.

  8. avatar
    Enric Mestres Girbal

    Why focus poverty in Africa?…There is poverty in Asia, America and also in the “rich” Europe. Politicians should invest in provide work and decent living to their folks, not in filling their own pockets.

  9. avatar
    Steffan Chrestensen

    Invite them all to come and ransack EU. Seems to be the way politician are thinking. Even do it would be easier and more efficient to help them in other middle eastern countries.

  10. avatar
    Mario Kurzio Scortichini

    Shouldn’t EU focus on local poverty insted of thinking on a Global Scale? We have rich european country as much as we have poor ones. We are not “guardian angels” of the whole word. We should solve OUR problems first and only afterwards the problems of the others.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Silvio Bosco
      Written like a true denizen of a mickey-mouse country.

  11. avatar
    Omid Danesh Khorak


    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Omid Danesh Khorak
      Why do you want to commit suicide you RACIST specimen?!

  12. avatar
    Evangelos Koumentakos

    The only way to fight global poverty is to understand that there is no ‘global’ poverty, but nations poverty. We are one as consumers and divided as citizens. ….like in Europe.

  13. avatar
    catherine benning

    The most effective way to fight global poverty is to stop treating those who live and remain in such poverty with the mind of children. As if they have no brain to rid themselves of it. Why does Europe feel this poverty is a responsibility for their own way of life? Can anyone please explain this to me? It wasn’t that long ago we European used to throw our own shit out of the window onto the passing crowd. Until we built sewers.

    Who is making money from keeping those who live in abject poverty as charity cases? The organisations crying daily, send me your money so that I can take care of the poor who have no brain to do it for themselves. The endless advertisements absolving the men and fathers of these starving children for the predicament they are in. As if their lifestyle, aspirations and futile lack of action and duty has anything to do with its continuence. And that as a result we all, collectively, must keep sending millions of pounds to make it all right for them to sit and do nothing. It is crazy.

    People from countries that have and allow continuous poverty, starvation, disease and on and on, are not imbeciles without intelligence. They are equal in their ability and sense to all of us in the West. Why are they not being expected, the way all adults are expected, to take care of their poverty through their own efforts. We all live under tyranny of some sort.

    Sending billions in AID, decade after decade, has done nothing for all those you see in the adverts for charities to receive you weekly cash. Those charities who pay their top men huge salaries to the tune of millions and lay out an absolute fortune to TV companies to run their begging adverts…. Poverty is a con used to dupe us all into giving tax free fortunes to conglomerates.

    The only way these people living in dire poverty can change their status is to get up off of their arses and start doing something to change their own life and work out of it, instead of sitting on the floor looking as fat as pigs whilst their babies starve with bloated bellies.;_ylt=A9mSs22VooxW8D4A9I1LBQx.;_ylc=X1MDMjExNDcxNzAwMwRfcgMyBGZyA21jYWZlZQRncHJpZANMOXY4Y0g5Y1RST2xSUEc1Q0w1X3ZBBG5fcnNsdAMwBG5fc3VnZwMxBG9yaWdpbgN1ay5zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tBHBvcwMwBHBxc3RyAwRwcXN0cmwDBHFzdHJsAzQwBHF1ZXJ5A2NoYXJpdHkgY29tbWVyY2lhbHMgd2l0aCBzdGFydmluZyBiYWJpZXMEdF9zdG1wAzE0NTIwNjA5MjA-?p=charity+commercials+with+starving+babies&

    Why is there no water or clean water in these places? Why is there no school for thir children? Where are their parents? Why are they not being asked to take care of their kids? People of poverty in my country, are humiliated, ridiculed called scroungers and are sent to walk six miles to a food bank in order to feed their family. Every day on TV journalist make grossly offensive programmes about British people living on benefits as scroungers. And the more they are humiliated the better the government likes it. Why is it not this way with people from different parts of the world? Why are they immune to expectations we have of ourselves? I repeat, these people are not children or half wits. They can make a difference for themsleves and their own families if they bother to organise, rather than play the game of ‘help me.’

  14. avatar
    Rosa Madruga

    Ensinar é… AMAR😌DEUS o Abençoe Professor por se encontrar com o Próximo🙌

  15. avatar
    Nigel Daff

    STOP POVERTY – well a start might be two fold – 1 make billionaires give most of their money to invest in all poor regions and peoples around the planet and 2 stop the possibilty of any future chance that “individuals” can become billionaires – money that NO individual really needs to live a reasonably good life style.

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      ….a tuff Daff?……..but sooo unrealistic!

    • avatar
      Paul X

      The incentive for millionaires to work hard is to become a billionaire, the incentive for people earning 100K to work hard is to become a millionaire, the incentive for someone earning 10K to work hard is to earn 100K, the incentive for someone earning nothing to work hard and find a job is to earn 10K……….
      …, take away the incentive for people to work hard and you have a society full of the bone idle

  16. avatar
    JH Wandall

    Poverty in a material sense is the result of uneven distribution of ressources. How does that happen? You may say greed, inherited rights and suppression of those who have not. But do those who have nothing dare raise their voices? Nothing happens befor those who normally keep quiet starts speaking and participating. At the door it is a question of trust, confidence in they may succeed. Enormous amounts are allocated for the global climate, for global health development, for security measures to combat terrorism created by poverty and religious fanatism. Where are all this money going? how small or large fraction are vanishing into private account? and how do anybody insure proper accounting? People may be poor, but if they have trust in their institutions and the people they may elect a degree of being content may result in development and elimination og basic poverty. So what should be done?
    1. don’t allocate any ressources unless a proper accounting is made
    2. control personal accounts of politician and administrative persons
    3, don’t allow politicians to secure their own families in western countries – the security of your own family is a strong motive for doing your job
    4. Anything or any assistance given should be according to ordinary people in the areas concerned. You don’t bring beef to India during a famine.

  17. avatar

    Well, the first thought that comes to my mind is “Take it from the rich and give it to the poor”. I know it sounds very “Robin Hood” like but there are quite a few Ph.D. ( and Nobel Laureates ) economists agree with me :)

    • avatar
      Paul X

      The Robin Hood theory is fine if all the rich are bad guys like the Sheriff of Nottingham and all the poor are hard working “salt of the earth” peasant types

      Some of the rich in this world have only become rich due to their own hard work and innovation and some of the poor are poor because they are bone idle…the question is how do you determine who deserves to pay up and who deserves to be paid?

  18. avatar
    Paul X

    I had written a post about sterilisation which clearly didn’t get past DE censorship, (yet I notice a post above using a racist term still remains?)

    Anyway, my point was I’m sick fed up of advertising campaigns trying to make people in the West feel guilty and cough up more cash to help “poverty” (the UK government spends enough of my taxes on foreign aid already so my conscience is clear)
    Such ads usually involve starving children so clearly the obvious solution is to stop them have children….by compulsory means if necessary. I know this is politically incorrect and the bleeding hearts brigade will no doubt bang on about their human rights, but sorry, bringing a child into the world you know you cannot support and who is destined to suffer a slow and painful death is not a human right, it is immoral beyond belief

  19. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    How serious & practical are all these decade long revisions of UN visions? After Agenda 21 in 1992 followed “Agenda 2030″….. than 2050?…. 2070? Same problems, different years! Conferences, meetings statements, principles, commitments, targets, resolutions but no solutions- endless………!

    Before one can comment about poverty in a “sensible” way & within EU context- causes of…… & effects- due to…. need to be clarified first- not generalized.

    Culture, religion, history, superstition, different governing philosophies, domination’s, civil wars, corrupt, stupid & devious politics & greedy business and their henchmen are all contributing factors and have their own champions with wild & great ideas.

    Simple- charity should begin at home!

  20. avatar
    Rudi Spoljarec

    Teach them (us) to catch the fish , not to eat fish. And protect us (them )against the overeaten bureaucracy to eat that same fish.

  21. avatar

    Let ppl know each other through communication, media, and through democratization to allow equal access to resources and services.

  22. avatar
    Elona von Tirona

    We are all poor relative to some possibilities and rich relative to others… Starting from the basics: reliable access to safe drinking water sources, sewage treatment, durable shelter, education, improving healthcare, efficiency in lawmaking and governing body!

  23. avatar
    Ibrahim Uzun

    The best way is to stop millioners to became billioners and billioners to became trillioners.

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