As the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty arrives on Saturday, the global community needs to take this special day as an opportunity to start doubling its efforts in mitigating the impact of the raging novel coronavirus pandemic that is disrupting the world’s poverty alleviation drive.
Lifting people out of poverty is among the primary and necessary steps to guarantee their most fundamental human rights, improve social equality and stability, and pursue inclusive development.
For decades, thanks to the relentless joint efforts of the international community, countries around the world have achieved remarkable progress in improving people’s living conditions and building a more just and prosperous society within their borders.
The percentage of people living in extreme poverty globally fell from nearly 36 percent in 1990 to an estimated 8.4 percent in 2019, which means that more than 1 billion have escaped from the jail of extreme poverty, according to the World Bank data.
However, in the face of the compounded challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, a teetering global economy and other dire planetary crises such as climate change, governments worldwide and international organizations need to better grasp an alarming fact that without swift, coordinated and effective responses, the world’s campaign to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals on poverty reduction by 2030 could fall flat.
According to the World Bank’s latest report, in 2020, an additional 88 to 115 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty, living on less than 1.9 U.S. dollars a day, because of the deadly virus and resulting economic recession.The first priority is to make the pie of the global economy bigger.
A robustly growing global economy is fundamental to slashing poverty worldwide. Thus all members of the international community should join their hands even tighter to contain the still raging outbreak so that the world economy can emerge out of the painful recession and embark on the track of recovery as quickly as possible.
Isolationist and protectionist headwinds that are rocking global trade and commercial transactions are also dimming the prospect of a strong global economic growth.
It is therefore imperative to build a more open and interconnected world economy, and boost a more sustainable growth, so that more jobs and wealth can be created. A stronger world economy does not automatically help narrow the wealth gap.
Accordingly, governments worldwide should take the lead by introducing more policies that can ensure an equitable distribution of benefits brought about by growth, like reforming tax codes and building up a more effective social welfare system.
Rich and major countries, as well as multilateral bodies like the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization also have their unique and indispensible roles to play by championing and coordinating the global efforts in helping the most vulnerable groups of people get a nutritious meal, cure a serious disease, find a reliable job and have an easy access to debt relief while they are trying to cope with the once-in-a-century global public health crisis.
China, as a responsible major country, has been steadily marching towards its goal of terminating extreme poverty. Growing from a backward country to the world’s second largest economy, China has lifted a total of 850 million of its people out of poverty over the past decades, contributing to over 70 percent of global poverty eradication. Moreover, countries in Africa and Asia are also learning from China’s proven experience on poverty reduction.
As Beijing believes that the golden key to solving the poverty problem is to promote development, it is also working with willing partners worldwide to bolster common development, notably in the developing world, via the Belt and Road Initiative.
The unprecedented pandemic should never be an excuse to watch struggling people being sucked into the abyss of poverty. The international community must commit more decisively to working together and making sure that no one across the globe is left behind along the path towards the world’s final victory over poverty.