There are many social, political, environmental, and economic reasons why the goal ‘No poverty’ stands first on the SDGs list. Any assessment of our global plans and strategies’ future validity fails in the long term unless poverty gets taken out of the equation.
The good news is that we are on the right path! During the last three decades, global poverty has experimented an unprecedented decrease. From over 40% of people living below the global poverty line in the early 80’s, the number has fallen under 10%, in the 2019. However, the global poverty line set at $1.90 using 2011 prices can hardly reflect much more than the cold economic assumption that $1.90 per day is enough not to be considered poor. It simply emphasizes consumption and centers the focus of human well-being into the realm of objects.
But, “well-being is not really about a set of objects in the space of choice but about how people make sense of them.” (Rojas, 2019) and, as Robert F. Kennedy had pointed out, many things that make life worthwhile are not associated to income.
Therefore, I am ending this series of posts dedicated to the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the SDG1: No poverty. While reminding us that the SDGs are a first-ever achieved global framework of indicators to monitor processes, inform decision-making, and ensure shared responsibility among all stakeholders, we should also remember that it all begins with eradicating poverty.
We are living in a global world that operates as a system of systems. All our choices and all our actions trigger chain reactions, and poverty is the best reminder that ‘A chain is only as strong as its weakest link’.
Thank you all for following this series of posts that ends with the speech given by Robert F. Kennedy at the University of Kansas in 1968:
“But even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction – purpose and dignity – that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product. . . . counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”