Extreme poverty is a problem facing one sixth of the world’s population. People that live in extreme poverty make less than one dollar per day. They live in conditions that can only be described as inhuman. Basic necessities such as drinking water and shelter, which we take for granted are not provided. The effects of this problem echo worldwide as countries that face the issue are more likely to fall back in development and start to rely on foreign aid. A dependency complex develops and corruption spreads, thus increasing the problem. However, there is a silver lining in the horizon. The number of people living in extreme poverty has decreased since 1990 as the world started to focus on this problem. This is reflected in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals initiative; the issue has been placed at the top of the list of goals and is gaining attention from all sorts of organizations, media and governments.
In 2015, resolution A/RES/70/1 was passed, Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was established. The primary goal as stated in the Preamble of the resolution document is to end poverty in all of its forms everywhere. The target of the document is to aim to end poverty within a 15-year period and establish a better future for the people and the planet, this will help in promoting peace in many corners of the world.
The document is founded on the shared principles based on the Charter of the United Nations and a mutual understanding of international law; Following the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the various human rights treaties. A binding document to all signing members as a commitment to work on improving the life of the people they serve.
Each country has a crucial role in improving upon the lives of its people. As the problem of extreme poverty is a complex problem that has many causes and different solutions based on the environment it exists in. the role of the international community is to provide financial support and reasonable technologies to the underdeveloped countries. This will help gradually in improving the lives of the people living in extreme poverty.
The work of governments is undoubtedly crucial to achieving the goals presented in the resolution; however, it is not enough. Civil societies worldwide must be part of this global project. Individual work no matter how insignificant it may appear can help greatly if multiplied. Individuals can help by volunteering their time and spreading awareness to their communities. Such individuals must be supported by local and international businesses. The function of the business world is essential as they can provide the financial backing through donating and investing in the issue. A great model for businesses to copy is the work of the 2006 Noble Peace Prize awardee Dr. Muhammad Yunus. He has established the concept of “Social Business” defined, as “it is a cause-driven business in a social business, the investors/owners can gradually recoup the money invested, but cannot take any dividend beyond that point. Purpose of the investment is purely to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of the company, no personal gain is desired by the investors. The company must cover all costs and make profit, at the same time achieve the social objective, such as, healthcare for the poor, housing for the poor, financial services for the poor, nutrition for malnourished children, providing safe drinking water, introducing renewable energy, etc. in a business way”.
The goal of ending poverty is no easy task; it requires tremendous resources and energy. The seeds have been planted once resolution A/RES/70/1 was passed. If achieved, many of the problems the world faces will disappear and a better world will exist. Crime, extremism, death and war are results of poverty; they are created by poverty and only increase it. The world has the unique opportunity to end the problem once and for all. Awareness of the issue must spread to reach as many people as possible. Our responsibility as individuals and governments is to provide a better future for ourselves and for future generations, if we reach our objective of ending poverty then we surely have done that.