Global Policy Forum

General Analysis on Poverty and Development

GPF Perspectives

In this article, Jens Martens, the director of the European office of Global Policy Forum, advocates for a comprehensive program to tackle the global development crisis at its roots. A fundamental change of the dominant development paradigm is needed to move away from the modernization approach that confuses economic growth with social progress. A more holistic model of development based on the following six cornerstones must be considered: environmental sustainability, social justice, economic efficiency, democratic participation, cultural diversity and international responsibility. (Yale Global)

A Compendium of Inequality (October 2005)

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) published the 2005 Human Development Report just a week before the Millenium+5 Summit. The release was intended to influence governments to promote a more incisive approach to development, aid and security policies. This briefing paper analyzes the report and agrees with the UNDP's concern that in the current path towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the lack of distribution and social justice policies is leading to a "blind spot." (Global Policy Forum and Friedrich Ebert Foundation)

Report of the UN Millennium Project "Investing in Development" (February 2005)

After more than two years of work, the United Nations Millennium Project published its final report, "Investing in Development," in January 2005. This Global Policy Forum and Friedrich Ebert Foundation briefing paper provides a more accessible analytical summary on the massive report and places it in a political context.


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The global civil society network Social Watch annualy collects reports from its member organizations around the world. This year's Social Watch Report, which is published online, received a report from Lebanon which is faced with the civil war in neighbouring Syria. While Social Watch reports usually focus on the social, environmental and economic situation in the respective countries, Lebanon's report addresses the challenges the country faces in terms of a deadly conflict it could be drawn into – and the difficulties that come with a constant stream of refugees and the lacking international commitment to help the small country in that situation.

ANND has issued a statement on World Bank loans in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. As almost 2 million Syrians have been displaced in neighbouring countries, the World Bank has started to issue loans, such as a $150 million loan to support Jordan. However as Jordan (and also Lebanon) are heavily indebted civil society groups are asking for grants to be issued in place of loans to allow the affected countries an opportunity to recover.

The OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) is currently reviewing the rules to report donors’ loans as Official Development Assistance (ODA). This discussion is taking place against a backdrop of aid cuts across Europe and raises concerns about the intentions of DAC donors. There are risks that the poor will be short-changed if the new rules make it easier for donors to inflate their aid figures further without making fresh money available and that debt sustainability will be undermined if loans are scaled-up.

Leave No One Behind: The Agenda of the United Nations Should Respect Nature and Listen to the People (June 27, 2013)

Social Watch, ATD Fourth World and the International Trade Union Confederation trace some worrying features of the United Nations development agenda. The agenda beyond 2015, when the Millennium Development Goals expire, is currently debated in international fora. The organizations emphasize the importance of leaving no-one behind and respecting nature, and call for listening to and learning from the people living in poverty. (Social Watch, ATD Fourth World, International Trade Union Confederation)

Eradicating Poverty... By Lowering the Bar (June 19, 2013)

Roberto Bissio, director of Social Watch, criticizes the current understanding of poverty in an article for Third World Network. He compares the approaches of World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and his predecessor Robert McNamara and notes their striking similarities despite the 40 years between the speeches he cites. According to Bissio, the past decades have nevertheless witnessed a regression in poverty eradication policies. He criticizes the definition of extreme poverty in absolute terms and stresses the need for more ambitious and equitable goals in fighting poverty. (Roberto Bissio)

World Poverty is Shrinking Rapidly, New Index reveals (March 16, 2013)

The conventional method of measuring poverty based on income levels offers a poor analysis of the state of global poverty. The previous formula of people living on less than $1.25 per day is now replaced by a more comprehensive Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in the latest UN report. It allows for poverty to be measured through a set of 10 indicators, namely nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling and attendance, cooking fuel, water, sanitation, electricity, assets and a covered floor; all essential for alleviating poverty. A new study by the University of Oxfords’ poverty and human development initiative uses this index to calculate poverty projections and finds that acute poverty in impoverished countries will likely be eliminated within the next 20 years. It is attributed in part to the work of aid agency investments in healthcare, education, housing, infrastructure access etc. Although there is concern that development progress is inconsistent globally, the MPI offers a more robust approach to monitoring progress. Critics of the MPI, however, point that it is convenient to change the index to obtain a more satisfactory result. (The Observer)

Building Communities: How Poor People Are Unlocking Their Own Potential (February 28, 2013)

Rural support programs (RSPs), a model built on empowering communities through a bottom-up approach, offers an important lesson for development programs. Programs often adopt a top-down “one size fits all approach” that does not achieve long term sustainability as RSPs. Instead, RSP representatives first engage in discussions with locals to define the top priorities of the community as a whole, which they can advocate for with local governments through the community organization exercises that follow. Case studies from Pakistan show how water, sanitation and energy access has improved using this approach. Evaluations by the UN, World Bank and DFID each praise the program, and the model is now incorporated into India’s national rural livelihoods mission. Although measuring improvements to social capacity is difficult and a long-term process, international development needs to focus more on these sustainable models. (Guardian)

Lessons in Urbanizing from BRICS? (January 10, 2013)

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, commonly referred to as BRICS nations, currently dealing with large-scale urbanization and urban migration offer useful lessons for future migration policies. Urban issues are and will become increasingly important as estimates show 66% of developing country population will live in urban areas in the next 40 years. Accepting urban migration and recognizing migrants as citizens with rights are key lessons from the failed approaches in the world’s fastest growing economies. Furthermore, there is a greater need for planning based on migration estimates in the form of affordable housing and infrastructure services to avoid slum proliferation, where marginalized residents cannot receive land tenure and public services. Most importantly, policies must account for all factors and include the marginalized in decision-making to achieve long-term success and public support. (IRIN)


Rethinking Urban Poverty (December 17, 2012)

Research by the International Institute for Environment and Development highlights the limited impact of efforts addressing urban poverty due to its poor definition by the international community.  Currently, poverty is defined in terms of income, such as the US$1 per day poverty line, or in terms of nutrition. Urban poverty affects 1 in 7 and crude definitions do not permit differentiating between the urban poor with and without access to public amenities, essential for development. Also important is the need for recognizing this population as citizens rather than target groups for government policy. (IRIN)

Sanctions on Iran Hit Afghan Refugees (December 10, 2012)

This article examines the economic impact of sanctions against Iran on Afghan refugees.  Afghans have long migrated to Iran to find work and better living conditions, and the US-led war has exacerbated this trend. Iran’s national currency has decreased over 35% in value due to the sanctions against its nuclear program and led to a subsequent rise in consumer prices which has made living conditions exceptionally difficult for refugees.  These sanctions targeted at the Iranian regime have a significant impact on unintended victims such as Afghan refugees, most of whom were forced to migrate due to the actions of some of the very countries applying sanctions on Iran. (Financial Times)

Kyrgyzstan: Could Microfinance Bubble Burst? (June 11, 2012)

The microfinance market in Kyrgyzstan is overheating. The poor rural population and the absence of an efficient regulatory requirement in Kyrgyzstan have rapidly increased the number of small scale lenders that aggressively attract clients and charge high interest rates. Microfinance institutions are often driven by commercial interest rather than development goals. The rising indebtedness suggests the possibility of a sudden burst of the credit bubble. (EurasiaNet)

Let’s Not Kid Ourselves that Financial Inclusion Will Help the Poor (May 8, 2012)

In this article, “local economic development” expert Milford Bateman critically appraises the subtle discursive shift that the World Bank and other propagators of “microfinance” are trying to pull off: from “poverty reduction” to “universal financial inclusion.” According to Bateman, this shift is not only supposed to mask the failure of microfinance by essentially breathing new life into it, but also to continue to ignore – for ideological reasons – what really needs to be done to reduce poverty. To continue on this path after the financial crisis is particularly sordid, since a lack of demand rather than access to credit was a key driver for it. (Guardian)


Europe: “Agenda For Change” Leaves Middle-Income Countries Out in the Cold (November 1, 2011)

The EU, the world’s biggest official development aid (ODA) donor in the world, has just published its new policy framework for development aid. The “Agenda for Change” has met with the vehement critique of many international NGOs for its focus on economic growth as a way out of poverty. The NGOs also lament the possibility of aid being cut to middle-income countries and the “creeping influence of the private sector” as a development actor. According to the NGOs, the EU will not only falsely and knowingly equate growth to poverty reduction, but also allow ODA to fall into the hands of the private sector instead of the poor. (Terraviva Europe/IPS)  

BCI 2011: Economic Growth Does Not Ensure Human Well-Being (October 2011)

Social Watch’s “Basic Capabilities Index” (BCI) identifies situations of poverty based on only three basic social indicators: for health, nutrition and education respectively (monetary income is notably not an indicator). The BCI has proved to be highly correlated with the measure of many other human capabilities and therefore works as a “summary-index” for progress in social development. The 2011 BCI report shows that despite the fact that global trade and average per capita income have grown faster in the 21st century than in the decades before, progress in poverty reduction has slowed down. In fact, the report argues that the last decade was “a lost decade in the fight against poverty,” a situation that is attributable to the growing inequalities in the distribution of the benefits of economic prosperity. (Social Watch)

UN Economic and Social Forum Ends With Calls For Implementation of Decisions (July 29, 2011)

Following the conclusion of the yearly ECOSOC summit in Geneva (July 4-8, 2011), ECOSOC President Lazarous Kapambwe highlighted the “number of decisions and resolutions” negotiated by the Council at the session, but said that “real success” should be measured by the implementation of these decisions. Development was a key theme of the meeting. The importance of aid effectiveness, international cooperation, reconstruction, and nation-building was discussed in relation to Somalia, South Sudan, Haiti, and the Horn of Africa.  The Council passed a resolution to review the implementation of the Istanbul Program, which lays out strategies for sustainable development in LDCs. Strategies to improve access and quality of education to fight poverty were also considered. (UN News Centre)

United Nations Conference Examines Ways to Help Struggling Countries (Viewpoint) (July 19, 2011)

The Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries took place on May 9-13 in Istanbul, Turkey. At the conference, representatives agreed to get half the LDCs out of poverty by 2020, by developing their productive capacity in infrastructure and energy, and promoting food security, human development, and good governance. Rather than looking at localization, the focus was on private investment and aid. But development assistance currently remains at around 0.2% of GNP. Only three countries have graduated since the first group of LDCs was listed in 1971, and progress is still elusive for the 880 million people in the 48 LDCs. (Michigan Live)

How the Murdoch Press Keeps Australia's Dirty Secret (May 12, 2011)

John Pilger argues that Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has waged a consistent campaign against social justice for indigenous Australians.  Murdoch’s News Corporation has a strong hold on Australian news media, as well as significant holdings in the UK, US and Asia.  Pilger alleges that Murdoch controlled media has actively mobilized against indigenous land rights and has supported the Australian government’s controversial “emergency intervention” – despite UN condemnation of this policy as racist.  At its core this rhetoric preferences powerful interests in resource rich land over the rights of Australia’s indigenous people. (

The Economics of Violence (April 14, 2011)

The new World Bank World Development Report argues that violence is the cause of poverty, rather than the reverse. The authors of the report highlight that justice and security deserve higher priority in the development of poor countries. This analysis seems to ignore income inequality that sparks violence. More importantly, it disregards the World Bank and IMFs role in scaling back institutional capacity during the era or structural reforms. Although this report is presented as groundbreaking, its logic largely fits in with neoliberal paradigms that emphasize security driving militarization. (The Economist)

Least Developed Countries Stagnate Under Ailing Strategies (March 30, 2011)

Since 1970 only three nations classified as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have “graduated” to become middle-income countries.  This era has coincided with globalization and neoliberal reforms that have shrunk the state, deregulated markets, and privatized services.  Development economists have started questioning the soundness of these reforms in light of the weak economic performance of the poorest nations. (IPS)

Chinese Pin Hopes on Affordable Housing Pledge (March 7, 2011)

China's leaders are on high alert following the wave of revolutions spreading across the Arab world. Premier Wen Jiabao has pledged to double the amount of affordable housing stock over the next five years. Nevertheless, China faces a growing number of issues related to extreme inequality and price rises in food and oil. Policy makers are concerned that if wealth isn't distributed more equally, political instability may rise. (Reuters)

Urgent Appeal to Change the Mindset (March 6, 2011)

The Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives is an interdisciplinary group of civil society activists and scholars from all parts of the world. The Reflection Group aims to fundamentally rethink the models and measures of development and social progress, and will publish a report of key findings and recommendations in advance of the UN Summit on Sustainable Development in 2012. At their second meeting in New York City, 4-6 March 2011, the members of the Reflection Group formulated an appeal to change the dominant mindset. (Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives)

Support Piles Up for Millennium Consumption Goals (February 25, 2011)

Mohan Munasinghe, a Sri Lankan physicist and economist, has proposed a set of ideas meant to constrain obscene consumption habits in the rich world. He has named his set of principles the Millennium Consumption Goals (MCGs) after the Millennium Development Goals which were created to lift poor people across the developing world out of poverty. The MCGs are intended to reverse the logic by redistributing wealth and pushing the rich to embrace sustainable lifestyles which are less harmful for the planet. 

UN Agency on 'Red Alert' as Soaring Food Prices Threaten Millions of World's Poorest  (February 18, 2011)

The UN World Food Program helps to feed almost 100 million people worldwide. Poor and vulnerable people are disproportionally affected by recent food prices increases, political instability and weather emergencies. People living in extreme poverty spend more money on less nutritious food, which increases malnutrition and decreases income available for schooling and vital health services.  (UN News Centre)

UN Pushes for Social Schemes to Protect Poor at Mere Fraction of National Wealth (February 14, 2011)

The UN is calling on member states to make a commitment to providing social safety nets and improved access to food and healthcare to the world's poor. Officials, citing the success of Brazil's Bolsa Familia welfare program, are pressing for social transfers to redistribute income and alleviate poverty. Only 2 percent of global GDP would be required to provide basic security systems to the world's poor. Protest movements that have toppled autocratic regimes in the Middle East highlight the need to provide greater assistance to the poor. (UN News Centre)

"Magic tree seeds" to Purify Dirty Water (February 10, 2011)

The Moringa oleifera tree's seeds are capable of purifying water and reducing the amount of present bacteria. The shrubs are widely grown in Africa, Central and South America, and South and Southeast Asia. While not a solution for purifying large amounts of drinking water, it could function on the household level. Moringa trees can't clean all water pollutants, but they could help make clean drinking water more accessible. (IRIN)

The Arab Crisis: Food, Energy, Water, Justice (January 26, 2011)

In many parts of the Arab world, an angry populace is facing high unemployment and rising food prices threatens social cohesion. According to the World Bank, Arab countries import more than half their food; their economies depend on oil prices while rising energy prices make food more expensive. Land and water resources are diminishing and climate change is undermining agricultural production. This article examines the linkage between environmental degradation, resource depletion and political systems in states including Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan and Egypt.(Open Democracy)

Global Unemployment has Reached Dangerous Levels, ILO Report Shows (January 25, 2011)

The International Labour Organization issued an alarming report about the state of the global workforce. Nearly half of all workers - more than 1.5 billion people - endure in vulnerable or insecure jobs. Youth, in particular, suffer from persistently high rates of unemployment. Ultimately, the bulk of the world's population, beleaguered by job uncertainty and stagnant wages, feel the pinch of government austerity measures and rising food and energy prices. (The Guardian)


The New Bottom Billion (December 6, 2010)

The past two decades have seen a demographic shift with deep implications for development policy.  Twenty years ago, 90% of the world's poor lived in low-income countries, whereas today, 70% of the world's poor live in middle-income countries. With only 13% of the world's poor living in low-income countries, aiding them can no longer be the main goal for reducing world poverty. (The Broker Online)

The Seven Myths of 'Slums' - Challengeing Popular Prejudices About the World's Urban Poor (December 9, 2010)

To eradicate urban poverty there needs to be a redistribution of power and resources on a national and global level. A report published by Share the World's Resources aims to challenging the myths of slums and poverty in developing countries. Realizing a world without slums means supporting resourcefulness, capacity and the organizational ability of people living in poor urban areas. The report concludes that for and cities to become socially inclusive and sustainable, there should be holistic models for development and real sharing of resources.

Developing World Scores on Health, Wealth and Education (November 4, 2010)

The 2010 Human Development Report has established that development cannot be measured in economic growth alone. In this year's Human Development Index, three more data series have been used: the Inequality-adjusted HDI, the Gender Inequality Index (GII) and the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI). Jeni Klugman, the lead author of the report, find a lot to be positive about: life expectancy has risen from 59 to 70 years since 1970 and the report found "people today are healthier, more educated and wealthier than ever before." Yet 925 million people worldwide still go hungry. It's obvious that the progress isn't shared by everyone. (IPS)

Nicaragua: Extreme Poverty Falls - But Opposition Asks 'How'? (September 6, 2010)

A new independent study reports a 7.5% drop in extreme poverty in Nicaragua between 2005 and 2009, which has lifted 327,437 Nicaraguans into the category of living in "poverty," from their previous position in "extreme poverty." Conclusions in the report are based on changes in food consumption, the World Bank endorsed measure of wellbeing, but the report does not explore the causes of these changes. The President of Nicaragua has attributed this development to social programmes under his current government. (IPS)

Multidimensional Poverty Index (July, 2010)

Building on the work of Amartya Sen, which calls for a "multidimensional view of poverty and deprivation," researchers at Oxford University have developed the Multidimensional Poverty Index. The index, to be adopted within the 2010 UNDP Human Development Report, characterizes poverty based on the proportion of households which lack certain basic material, educational and health needs, and thus are "multidimensionally poor." Crucially, the index is not all encompassing and many facets of poverty - e.g. issues of conflict, security and empowerment - go unaccounted for. Yet, the method uses existing data to achieve a more meaningful view of poverty.  It should help identify poverty better in a diverse and complex world. (OPHI)

Is Global Poverty Reduction a Political Myth? (July 13, 2010)

The United Nations claims that poverty in the world is decreasing and countries will be able to halve the percentage of those in poverty by the 2015 MDG deadline. While this claim may be justified when using aggregate data, the number of the poor has actually increased in many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The success story is linked to a few countries, chiefly China, Brazil and Vietnam. The results in these countries distort poverty measurements and make it appear as though poverty reduction has been achieved evenly across the globe. The food price hikes, financial crisis and other factors have pushed poverty up substantially since the baseline year of 2005. (IPS)

In Haiti's Tent Cities, a Return to Normalcy is Unimaginable (July 13, 2010)

Six months after the Haitian earthquake no one has been able to provide permanent shelter for the 1.5 million dispossessed. Emergency squatter shelter, established immediately following the earthquake, is becoming permanent housing, for lack of any better alternative. Inhabitants of these spontaneous ghettos live in desperate conditions where resources, basic services and food run short. The Haitian government, concerned that urban refugee camps could hinder long-term reconstruction, is slowly starting to decentralize some families into relocation camps. Yet these camps offer just another form of transitory shelter, where many Haitians face even greater challenges and further isolation. (Miami Herald)

Opening Remarks at Launch of 2010 MDG Report (June 23, 2010)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon painted a picture of mixed success at the release of the 2010 Millennium Development Goals report. In spite of the crises in finance, food and fuel, the world has seen reduction in the poverty rate overall, but, "improvements in the lives of the poor have been unacceptably slow." In an effort to generate renewed momentum for the anti-poverty goals in the run up to the 2015 deadline, the Secretary-General announced that he has established an MDG Advocacy Group composed of political leaders and other prominent figures. (UN News Center)

Does Corruption Create Poverty? (April 21, 2010)

The dominant narrative on poverty attributes its primary cause to corruption. A counter-narrative presents corruption as a cause of poverty but not the leading one. Policies driven by the interests of rich countries have a more detrimental impact than corrupt leadership. The World Bank's mandate on promoting "good governance" feeds into the corruption discourse, overlooking the fact that the Bank's own structural adjustment policies (SAPs) have had worse implications for developing nations than corrupt leaders. Countries that were led by corrupt leadership but were administered under expansionary and redistributive policies fared better than those countries with less-corrupt leaders following SAPs. (Foreign Policy in Focus)
Bill Clinton has admitted that the US free-market agriculture policy towards Haiti did not work. But the solutions Clinton puts forward, as the UN Special Envoy to Haiti, calls for more of the same failed policies. Clinton's presidential policies toward Haiti deliberately reconfigured the country to fit into the new global division of labor, turning relatively self-sufficient farmers into low-wage workers in assembly plants. Now, Clinton ignores practical ideas put forward by Haitian popular organizations, while the ex-president continues to bolster export-oriented cash crops like coffee, mangos, and avocados. (NACLA)

UN Sets Out Roadmap for Universal electricity access (April 28, 2010)

The UN Advisory Group to the Secretary General on Energy and Climate Change has released a report calling on the international community to increase people's access to electricity. Nearly half the world's population still relies on burning biomass for cooking and heating. The smoke from biomass not only has a profound impact on the global climate, but can also cause serious health problems. This article speaks to the report's acknowledgment that access to reliable electricity is a key variable in the reduction of poverty world-wide. (IPS)

Seeds of Discontent: The "miracle" crop that is failing to deliver.  (February 15, 2010)

Five years ago scientists reported that they had found a "miracle" biofuel (named jatropha) that was resistant to drought and pests and could grow on land unsuitable for food production. However, a new report shows that the developing countries that farm jatropha have suffered increased poverty. Since many poor communities lack the infrastructure to process the oil from the plant, the venture has proved to be commercially unsustainable. Farmers of jatropha are often left with excess crop that they cannot sell or eat and - since they have given up land once used to grow vegetables - are left even more food insecure. (The Independent)
Children and Economic Growth (February 2010)

This Policy Brief by Save the Children emphasizes how political orthodoxy around economic growth leaves vulnerable people out of the equation. The brief urges a discussion that brings together economic growth, equity and poverty reduction.  The Brief says that while growth is a policy imperative of low income countries, countries with moderate rather than high rates of economic growth achieve better child mortality and under-nutrition results. Too often growth and social policies are pursued on separate tracks. (Save the Children)

Climate-Resilient Industrial Development Paths: Design Principles and Alternative Models (February 2010)

This paper promotes a model of development that incorporates "climate resilience." It argues that the overall goal of development should be sustainable livelihoods. The urgent need to mitigate and adapt to climate change creates the necessity of a new climate resilient development. This approach should focus on reducing human vulnerability to uncertain climate conditions. (Global Development and Environmental Institute)


Stomping Out Poverty Begin with a Treaty? (November 15, 2009)

The Treaty of Lisbon states that the EU's development cooperation policy will primarily focus on the reduction and the eradication of poverty. But NGO leader Mirjam Van Reisen says that the EU has been systematically violating the policy. Action Aid also criticizes EU aid policies. But many believe that the Treaty of Lisbon will increase the EU's role in fighting poverty by helping smallholder farmers have access to European markets. (NewEurope)

The Millennium Development Goals Report (July 6, 2009)

The combined effect of the economic, climate and food crises puts the Millennium Development Goals well out of reach. While donor countries reduce their aid levels, developing countries wrestle with declining income, high food prices and climate deterioration. This UN report advocates a renew commitment to the MDGs in the context of a global economic recovery program. (United Nations)

MDGs - Keeping the Promise (June 2009)

In September 2010, the United Nations will convene heads of state and governments for a three day summit to discuss ways of achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. This draft outcome document has been prepared for initial negotiations. In June 14-15, civil society organizations provided input during hearings. This document - a hybrid Political Declaration and Action Plan for achieving the MDGs - was drafted by Denmark and Senegal.

Has the World Given Up on Sustainable Development? (May 29, 2009)

Adams W. Parsons questions the weak outcome of the 17th UN Commission of Sustainable Development (CSD - 17). Without a doubt, the alarming issues on climate change, rural development, land use, desertification and agriculture are more urgent than ever. However, the final document did not contain clear rethinking on agriculture or new strategies to fight poverty. In fact, the 53 member states affirmed their self-interests instead of acknowledging the urgent need for truly sustainable development. (Share the World's Resources)


US Uses Aid to Promote Non-Humanitarian Goals (November 19, 2008)

Interviews with more than 350 humanitarian aid agencies in 11 crisis areas find that the US aid program is guided by military objectives rather than humanitarian purposes. For example, in Afghanistan, the US channels humanitarian aid through NATO operators, which threatens the security of humanitarian workers in the field, and makes locals question the impartiality of humanitarian work. The US is the world's biggest aid donor but ranks low in aid effectiveness and neutrality of their development work. (Washington Post)

World of Work Report 2008 (October 2008)

While economic growth produced millions of new jobs since the early 1990s, income inequality has grown dramatically in most regions of the world. From 1990 to 2005, the gap between people living in extreme poverty and extreme wealth grew by 70 percent. Economic deregulation, international capital flows and the global financial crisis will further widen this gap between the world's rich and poor. The report promotes a "Decent Work Agenda" including social protection and respect for workers rights in order to obtain a more equal global labor market. (International Labor Organization)

The Question To Be Asked: "Where Will the Money Come From?" (October 13, 2008)

In India over 2,000 farmers committed suicide in the past 15 years, and more than 40 percent of Indian farmers cannot make a decent living from agriculture. The Indian government claims it cannot afford to support the farmers financially. But the government easily rolled out money to save the rich people in India from the negative effects of the global financial crisis. (Share the World's Resources)

Shooting Down the MDGs (October 8, 2008)

This report states that irresponsible arms trade hinders developing countries from achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Arms trade drains the governments' national budget by utilizing the money for weapons instead of for public services, such as health, education and infrastructure. Furthermore, unregulated arms trade often leads to huge national debts and fuels armed violence. This report calls for all governments to agree on an international Arms Trade Treaty to ensure that the arms trade does not undermine Millennium Development Goals. (Oxfam)

A Measure of Hope (September 22, 2008)

This article argues that the world's leaders should revise the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to target the needs of the "bottom billion" – the world's poorest billion people. The MDGs focus too narrowly on international aid instead of dealing with the core causes of poverty. Further, the author suggests that the UN address the "biofuel scam," which diverts 30 percent of US corn away from food supply. (New York Times)

Alternative Poverty Estimates Say Progress Is Too Slow to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 (September 22, 2008)

This article argues that the world's leaders should revise the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to target the needs of the "bottom billion" – the world's poorest billion people. The MDGs focus too narrowly on international aid instead of dealing with the core causes of poverty. Further, the author suggests that the UN addresses the "biofuel scam," which diverts 30 percent of US corn away from food supply. (New York Times)

The MDG Project in Crisis "Midpoint Review and Prospects for the Future" (September, 2008)

Jens Martens and Tobias Debiel point out that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are much less ambitious than previous international development goals. Even so, the UN, World Bank and NGOs agree that most countries will not achieve most of the MDGs on time. The authors further argue that the MDGs fail to deal with the structural root causes of poverty, such as unequal distribution of wealth, land and political power, as well as unfair global trade rules.(Institue for Developmet and Peace)

The World Bank's New Poverty Estimates – Digging Deeper Into A Hole (August 26, 2008)

This article argues that the World Bank's revised poverty estimate gives a rosy picture of reality. While the Bank has made some improvements, its calculations are neither reliable over time nor comparable between countries. Further, the new poverty line of US$1.25 per days is still too low. In the US – the base country of the Bank's estimate – a person would need far more than US$1.25 to afford a "minimally decent life." (Columbia University)

New Data Show 1.4 Billion Live on Less Than US $1.25 a Day, but Progress Against Poverty Remains Strong (August 26, 2008)

Revised poverty data from the World Bank reveal that previous figures underestimated the number of poor people by over 400 million. Now, the World Bank estimates that 1.4 billion people live under a new poverty line of US$1.25 a day. Even though the number of poor is 40 percent larger, this World Bank Press Release still claims that the revised data points to "big successes in the fight to overcome extreme poverty." Further, the new data show striking regional differences in development progress. In East Asia poverty has fallen from nearly 80 percent in 1981 to 18 percent in 2005, whereas poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa remains at 50 percent. (World Bank)

Q & A With Kemal Dervis, Head of the UN Development Program (August 13, 2008)

Kemal Dervis, head of the UN Development Program (UNDP), answers questions about climate change and the global food and energy crises. Dervis recommends that rich and poor countries create a "burden-sharing framework" to reduce carbon emissions. Further, he identifies the challenges of storing and disposing nuclear waste, and the risks associated with the production of nuclear energy. Finally, Dervis claims that the UNDP is facing major challenges in fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals as 100 million people are pushed back into poverty because of soaring food and energy prices. (International Herald Tribune)

Critical Conditions: The IMF Maintains Its Grip on Low Income Governments (April 2008)

This EURODAD report finds that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) imposes on average 13 conditions per loan to low-income countries. A quarter of these include privatization or liberalization reforms. By increasing the number of conditions on developing countries, the IMF disregards the 2002 "conditionality streamlining initiative," in which it agreed to reduce the number of conditions on development loans. (EURODAD)

Philanthrocapitalism: After the Goldrush (March 20, 2008)

The author of this article is skeptical of profit-oriented philanthropy and its tendency to ignore "power, politics and social relations" – the very drivers of social transformation – and focus on free market mechanisms instead. The author fears that the hype surrounding philanthrocapitalism precludes rational debate on the issue. Without discussion or accountability, philanthrocapitalists like Bill Gates will continue to squander huge amounts of money on the symptoms of global inequality and poverty, rather than systematically addressing the causes. (openDemocracy)

Alternative Financing for Development (February 7, 2008)

In this presentation at a conference on global development finance, the author criticizes development aid as being "part of a system that generates deepening inequality and dependence across and within countries." The author uses Venezuela as an example of a new and improved approach to development, where the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) promotes regional integration and political cooperation to help member countries develop without becoming dependent on donors in the North. (Pambazuka)


Sharing in the Global Economy (August 13, 2007)

An estimated 2.7 billion people live on less than US$2 a day, while the number of millionaires has increased 80 times since the 1980s. Within the globalized world, power has moved away from governments to large transnational corporations and global institutions. For example, corporate led economic growth and free trade leads to environmental degradation, growing inequalities and resource depletion. The authors advocate a principle of sharing, in which decision makers acknowledge universal access to resources such as food, water, shelter and medicine. (Share The World's Resources)

Poverty and Violence in Times of Peace (August 7, 2007)

Analysts warn that twenty years after the signing of the peace accords in Central America, which ended years of civil war, the economic and social causes of those wars still exist, and could represent potential threats to peace and stability in the region. Economist Miguel Gutierrez stated that "little has changed" with respect to poverty and social inequality, since the signing of the 1996 peace accords. This Inter Press Service article argues that "economic and social marginalization and the need for regional integration" are the most critical issues still today. (Inter Press Service)

Poorest Countries Must Invest in Science, Technology to Develop: UN Report (July 19, 2007)

According to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the world's least developed countries should invest in science and technology if they want to compete with industrialized countries. Donors should give more funds "for research and for training professionals" as the brain drain that is underway in these countries is "depriving them of skilled workers." (Associated Press)

G8 Countries Have Not Met Their Promises (June 6, 2007)

Social Watch's Basic Capabilities Index (BCI) measures poverty based on education, child mortality and reproductive health. This 2007 BCI report finds that at the current rate of progress, "a minimum set of social services" will not be universally accessible in Sub-Saharan Africa until 2108 – almost a century beyond the Millennium Development Goals target date of 2015. Social Watch calls on the world's wealthiest countries to seize the opportunity of the June G8 summit "to fulfill their side of the agreement" by increasing aid and debt relief to Africa. (Social Watch)

Poverty Reduction and Climate Change Inextricably Linked, Say Activists (June 5, 2007)

Arguing that the effects of climate change in developing countries "will wipe out all efforts to help the poor through commitments such as aid," G8 protestors have called for the group of eight industrial nations to take definitive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The activists underscore the link between global warming and poverty, and state that the 2007 G8 summit must address both simultaneously "for there to be real improvement in [the] living conditions" of the world's poorest people. (Inter Press Service)

GCAP to Take Up Climate Change as a Core Issue (May 21, 2007)

After a "lengthy and heated debate," the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) has added climate change to its agenda. GCAP argues that this inclusion will allow discussion on the overlap between global warming and world poverty. However, many poor countries fear that the Western governments will use this as an excuse to focus on climate change and overlook GCAP's core issues, such as improved development aid, fair trade, and debt relief. (OneWorld)

Human Tide: The Real Migration Crisis (May 14, 2007)

Christian Aid warns that climate change will worsen an already serious migration crisis in developing countries. Based on current trends, this report predicts that large-scale development projects, environmental deterioration, and conflict – particularly over increasingly scarce natural resources – may force 1 billion people from their homes by 2050. (Christian Aid)

The World Is Still Waiting (May 11, 2007)

This Oxfam report calls on the G8 countries to fulfill their promise of increasing international aid to US$50 billion per year by 2010. Based on current aid trends, the G8 risk missing this target by "a staggering US$30 billion" – an amount which Oxfam estimates has the potential to "save at least five million lives." Despite their pledges to significantly increase international donations – especially to Africa – aid from G8 countries actually decreased in 2006 for the first time in almost a decade. (Oxfam)

Fair Trade Begins to Bear Fruit (May 2, 2007)

This Inter Press Service article reports on the benefits of fair trade to small farmers and artisans in developing countries such as Guatemala, where it has allowed thousands of coffee growers to earn as much as 100 percent more than would be possible in the conventional market. Business analysts say that the fair trade system maximizes profit for the producers while "taking into account factors like the human being, the environment, [and] the non-use of child labor." (IPS)

State of the World's Mothers 2007 (May 2007)

Save the Children's eighth annual State of the World's Mothers report focuses "on the 28,000 children under age 5 who die every day from easily preventable or treatable causes." Along with an analysis on the living conditions of children worldwide, the report provides key recommendations to governments on improving children's lives, such as ensuring the well-being of mothers, expanding health care, and increasing funding for basic medicines. The study concludes with a "Mothers' Index," which ranks 140 countries to show "where mothers and children fare best and where they face the greatest hardship" – Sweden and Niger, respectively. (Save the Children)

World to US: We Demand Climate Justice (April 18, 2007)

This OneWorld article reports that the United States "exacerbates poverty by contributing more to climate change than any other country." Global anti-poverty and religious leaders have therefore called on the US government "to take drastic and immediate action" to minimize the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, arguing that "the battle against climate change [is] a moral test" for the US. (OneWorld)

Poor Nations to Bear Brunt as World Warms (April 1, 2007)

Although the world's richest countries have contributed the most toward global warming, the poorest will likely suffer the worst effects. Arguing that "catastrophes are not democratic" and will do more damage to developing countries near the equator, this New York Times article calls on northern industrial nations to fund "adaptation" projects to lessen the impacts of climate change in "the world's most vulnerable spots." (New York Times)

Signing Away the Future--Summary (March 20, 2007)

This Oxfam report finds that rich countries are using regional and bilateral trade deals to attain "enormous irreversible concessions" from poor countries, making these agreements far more damaging to development than anything proposed under World Trade Organization negotiations. Arguing that these deals have "grave implications" both for the environment and for economic growth, Oxfam calls for trade rules that recognize the rights of developing countries and work to reduce poverty. (Oxfam)

Going Public Can Solve the Global Water Crisis (March 19, 2007)

In a report featuring "water experts" from Brazil, Cambodia, India and Uganda, the World Development Movement (WDM) argues that public water provision is key to "tackling the global water crisis" and promoting development. Citing greater efficiency and community participation as benefits of "going public," WDM calls for more international aid money to support "public utility reform." (World Development Movement)

Poor Nations Fear Big Powers Could Trample Their Concerns in WTO Talks (March 5, 2007)

With the revival of the Doha round of trade negotiations, poor countries fear the "Group of 4" – the US, the EU, Brazil, and India – will "bulldoze" their concerns over farm subsidies and other issues. Arguing that "nobody else will fight for you," a senior African diplomat urged poor countries to be "proactive" in protecting their interests. (International Herald Tribune)

"MDG Scan" to Benchmark Private Contribution (February 27, 2007)

A Dutch research organization has created an "MDG Scan" to measure the contributions of transnational corporations in achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals. While acknowledging that the scan largely ignores "the dark side of private companies," including environmental degradation and human rights violations, its creators hope that focusing on positive impacts will encourage corporations to take greater responsibility in promoting the MDGs. (Inter Press Service)

Chairman's Summary: Shadow G-8 (February 9, 2007)

Joseph Stiglitz summarizes a discussion on "global growth with responsibility" by "a diverse group of concerned citizens from around the world," including leading economists and former government officials. The resulting consensus calls for a reformed G8 process which would enable participation from all countries "to discuss informally the major issues facing the world," with a focus on the four immediate problems of climate change, global imbalances, global governance, and poverty, especially in Africa. (Initiative for Policy Dialogue)

Credit for the Poor (Fall 2007)

The global socioeconomic system rewards banks and businesses for seeking to maximize profit, rather than endorsing principles such as equity and inclusiveness. Consequently, more than half of the world's population is denied access to loans provided by conventional banks and thus has little opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty. In this Harvard International Review article, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus argues that microcredit can be a powerful alternative. (Harvard International Review)


South-South Trade Boom Reshapes Global Order (December 21, 2006)

This Inter Press Service article attributes the rapid expansion of South-South trade and foreign direct investment to larger developing countries such as India, Brazil, South Africa, and China. These "new economic powerhouses" increasingly provide aid and debt relief to many of the 50 least developed countries, thereby promoting development through the generation of jobs and wealth in the global South. (IPS)

Taking the Next Step: Implementing A Currency Transaction Development Levy (December 2006)

A "minimal" tax on currency transactions would allow countries to generate the funds necessary to meet the Millennium Development Goals. This Stamp Out Poverty article proposes a 0.005% development levy on all foreign exchange transactions, which would then provide funding for clean water, health resources, and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund. This proposal, however, as opposed to many other currency transaction tax proposals, does not aim to curb harmful currency speculation. (Stamp Out Poverty)

Human Development Report 2006 (November 9, 2006)

The 2006 Human Development Report argues that water and sanitation must be put "front and centre on the development agenda." 1.1 and 2.6 billion people do not have access to clean water and sanitation respectively, causing the death of nearly two million children annually. Reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on water and sanitation would save these lives as well as bring large economic benefits to developing countries, and is essential to reaching the other seven MDGs. Hoping to see diminishing "tolerance for  [...] extreme inequalities," and the G8 countries taking on a central role, the report calls for a "Global Action Plan" to tackle the global water and sanitation crisis similar to the way major US and European cities tackled their deadly water and sanitation situation 100 years ago. (United Nations Development Programme)

Eye on Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (October 11, 2006)

The Publish What You Pay coalition examines progress made on the ‘Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative' (EITI). "By developing a process to publicly disclose the revenues governments receive" from oil, gas and mining, EITI works to help countries avoid the "resource curse." Outlining steps necessary to curb corruption and ensure countries spend natural resource revenues to reduce poverty and generate economic growth, this report evaluates government performance in the 21 countries that endorsed the EITI in 2002. While Nigeria and Azerbaijan have made significant progress, "in about half of the countries, governments have failed to match their rhetoric with tangible measures." (Publish What You Pay)

Urgent Need to Invest More in Developing World's Record Youth Population, Says World Development Report (September 16, 2006)

Focusing on youth, the 2007 annual World Bank publication reports that the world population of people aged 12-24 has reached a record 1.3 billion, living mainly in poor countries. According to the report, this "demographic dividend" creates a short "window of opportunity" for poor country governments to stimulate social and economic development, before this huge generation reaches middle-age. The report strongly emphasizes the importance of governments investing in better education, healthcare and job training thereby "expanding opportunities," "improving capabilities," and "offering second chances" to the young. (World Bank)

How the World Bank's Energy Framework Sells the Climate and Poor People Short (September 2006)

Examining the World Bank's ‘Investment Framework for Clean Energy and Development,' nine non-governmental organizations reveal that the bank invests US$2-3 billion a year in greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuel projects, yet only five percent of its overall energy financing in renewable energy projects. The bank thereby fails "to reap the double dividend" of fighting both poverty and climate change with locally available renewable energy technologies. "Public funding for fossil fuels is a complete anachronism," and this report insists on a complete halt to the practice. Countries must redirect energy financing into renewable technologies through an "appropriate multilateral framework," and not the Western dominated World Bank. (Friends of the Earth)

How to Help the Poor Out of Poverty (May 16, 2006)

Stephen C. Smith, Professor of Economics at George Washington University, argues that rich countries must provide sufficient aid and high-quality policy advice to support poor countries' development. Although the article points out the importance of political advice from the World Bank and Northern NGOs, it emphasizes that this advice should enable poor countries to make their own choices on how best to develop. In addition, the author proposes that the World Bank create a new advisory body, which would give poor countries a larger voice in development decision making. (Globalist)

Donor Backing Grows for Global Vaccinations Scheme (May 16, 2006)

Three more countries joined the eight-country coalition supporting the International Finance Facility for Immunizations (IFFIm). The financial securities of these governments allow the IFFIm to borrow money from the financial markets to increase funds for immunization and development of new vaccines. Although this initiative, launched by the Global Alliance for Vaccinations and Immunizations (GAVI), does not raise additional funds, it enables the organization to improve poor people's health immediately. Nevertheless, NGOs raise concerns about future lack of funds, once GAVI has to repay the borrowed money. (Reuters)

Ten Stories That Desperately Need to Be Told (May 15, 2006)

Every year, the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) publishes a list of the 10 most under-reported stories. DPI's Director and Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Shashi Tharoor, sees the media's obsession with bloody conflict as the main reason development related issues do not grab much attention in the world's press. This Inter Press Service article describes the difficulties many non-sensationalistic media face, and looks at press initiatives from poor countries that try to cover development issues. (UN Department of Public Information)

Simple Measures Urged to Save Lives at Birth (May 9, 2006)

According to a report by Save the Children on the "State of the World's Mothers 2006," more than four millions newborns die each year in their first month of life – 99% of which live in poor countries. The report suggests that with low-cost tools like sterile blades, antibiotics for pneumonia and knit caps to keep them warm, three out of four newborn deaths could be avoided. Governments should train birth attendants, encourage immunization programs and educate parents on breast-feeding. (International Herald Tribune)

It Takes a Village to Save the MDGs (May 5, 2006)

Under the guidance of Jeffrey Sachs, the UN Millennium Project established 78 so-called Millennium Villages demonstrating how little spending in fields like health and education can "dramatically accelerate" Africa's rural development. Since 2000, the initiative has shown that villages can meet many of the Millennium Development Goals if empowered by international aid and practical technologies such as fertilizers or insecticide-treated bed nets. While many of these villages seem capable to gain self-sufficiency in the near future, rich countries have to provide more aid to allow all of the poor areas to follow these examples. (Inter Press Service)

Aid that Works? Multi-Donor Budgetary Support in Ghana (March 29, 2006)

Based on a report by the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER), this article looks at the efforts of various donor countries to provide more independent and predictable aid to Ghana. As aid programs conducted directly by rich countries firms "have had limited success" in reducing poverty, the Multi-Donor Budgetary Support (MDBS) approach directly funds development programs chosen by the Ghanaian government. Although major donors such as Japan still refuse to participate, the initiative could help untie aid flows from rich countries' commercial interests. (ID21)

Aid Inflows, Debt Relief Yet to Translate into Reduced Poverty (March 20, 2006)

Uganda, as many other sub-Saharan African countries, has achieved increased economic growth accompanied by moderate inflation rates. However, this "macroeconomic stability" has failed to improve the living conditions of the country's poor. At a meeting organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ugandan government officials pointed out that, although the country receives more aid flows "on paper" they have little impact "on the ground." (New Vision)

No "Magic Bullets" to End Poverty, Says Jeffrey Sachs (March 20, 2006)

In this interview, Jeffrey Sachs, head of the UN Millennium Project, responds to critiques to his Millennium Village project. In close cooperation with governments and NGOs, this initiative tries to attack poverty through rural development in different regions around Africa. According to Sachs, in many local communities "ambitious programmes" exist to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 or even 2010. Nevertheless, he emphasizes that only increased external assistance will allow poor countries to finance urgently needed investments in health, education, food production and infrastructure. (United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Trade Rules a Stumbling Block to Realising the MDGs (March 15, 2006)

In this interview, Director of Programmes of Third World Network-Africa Tetteh Homeku explains how predominant trading rules hinder Africa's development. Although foreign direct investment (FDI) can generate growth, the region requires strong local industries and better access to foreign markets to foster development. In addition, Mr. Homeku encourages the UN Agencies and Programmes that work in the region to support existing developing campaigns instead of "reinventing the wheel." (Inter Press Service)

Debt Boomerang (March 2006)

Based on a study of 77 heavily indebted countries, this Institute for Policy Studies report explains how poor country debt affects the citizens of wealthy nations like the US. Debts in foreign countries impact global job markets, international health plans, global warming, security, and immigration. Debt also causes great losses for the poorest citizens, as some countries in Africa must spend more on repaying loans than on health and education initiatives. (Institute for Policy Studies)

Chairman's Summary on Review of the First UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (March 2006)

The UN Commission for Social Development failed to adopt a resolution on UN achievements in poverty eradication due to fundamental political differences between the US and Southern countries - namely the G-77. The Commission only agreed to submit this summary of the panel discussion, compiled on the first day, to the Economic and Social Council of the UN. (UN Commission for Social Development)

Better Data Needed for Policy Research on Access to Financial Services (February 22, 2006)

This article looks at how restricted access to basic financial services is limiting poor peoples' chances to escape poverty. In many poor countries, although financial services such as checking accounts or credit-lines may be available, small firms and poor households cannot use them due to high costs. Often, access barriers such as account opening costs amount up to 30% or 50% of the GDP per capita. The World Bank also points out that governments need more data and research to foster poor peoples' access to financial services. (World Bank)

UN Unveils Plan to Release Untapped Wealth of...$7 Trillion (And Solve the World's Problems at a Stroke) (January 30, 2006)

By attacking global challenges such as malnutrition, global warming and financial crises before they actually occur, political leaders could unlock US$ 7 trillion. A UN Development Programme (UNDP) proposal encourages governments to internationally implement six specific financial tools to raise resources for development, including investments in vaccines, trade of pollution permits, and currency transaction taxes. (Independent)

Global Partnership for Development: United Nations Development Program Annual Report (2006)

This United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report focuses on democracy, health, gender, inequality, and the environment. It demonstrates the accomplishments of 2005, but also shows the need for rejuvenated development efforts. The report uses charts, tables, and pictures to illustrate the living situation among the global poor. The UNDP publication calls for collective action and financing both within the UN and between countries to strengthen the organization's capabilities in future years. (United Nations Development Program)

In the Public Interest – Health, Education, and Water and Sanitation for All (2006)

This Oxfam and WaterAid report argues that public provision of health and education services play a most important role in ending global poverty. Poor country governments must commit to bigger and better investments in health and education. Rich countries, for their part, must support these initiatives and increase both quantity and quality of aid, fully cancel debt for all poor countries that need it and stop demanding budget cuts in and privatization of public services through the international financial institutions. (Oxfam and WaterAid)


Review of the First United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006) (December 12, 2005)

This report by the UN Secretary General looks at the last ten years of worldwide efforts to reduce poverty. Although poverty has decreased in Asia, the UN observed little progress in Latin America and especially Africa. These regions suffer from wide income inequality preventing economic growth from translating into reduced poverty. (United Nations)

Millennium Development Goals Are Failing (December 4, 2005)

Looking at figures from the ActionAid International report "Whose Freedom?," this article argues that "the Millennium Development Goals are failing." In 19 countries people did not experience any progress in terms of food access, health services and education and in some cases their conditions even worsened. According to the author, multilateral institutions and governments should stop promoting "free-market-obsessed" policies which prevent the achievement of such goals. (Asian Age)

How 'Scientific' Are the Millennium Development Goals? (September 19, 2005)

Some economic analysts criticize the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) approach to development for their "significant uncertainty" in measuring progress. Meanwhile, supporters of the MDGs stress that the political value of such a campaign is more important than measuring figures. This article calls for a development strategy that would measure progress in both statistics figures and political commitments. (One World)

The Root Cause of Poverty in Latin America (September 13, 2005)

Political leaders rarely discuss redistribution in their speeches on development. They should. The experience of several Latin American countries shows that social policies of redistribution, rather than privatization and liberalization, strongly contribute to reduce inequality and promote development. (Inter Press Service)

UN Summit: Barriers to Schooling Undermine Goals (September 13, 2005)

Schooling is a fundamental right of every child and it is also one of the targets on the Millennium Development Goals. The first intermediate deadline, getting an equal numbers of boys and girls into school by 2005, has already been missed. The report "Failing Our Children: Barriers to the Right to Education" from Human Rights Watch found that, in many poor countries, school fees, the related costs (books, transportation, uniforms) and poverty still cause many children to drop out of school or never attend at all. This release urges countries to not deny children their right to education.

Reducing Poverty by Tackling Social Exclusion (September 2005)

Very often, poverty and social exclusion coexist. People who are discriminated against on the basis of their race, religion or gender can not claim their political and economic rights. As in Indonesia, Sudan or Kosovo, conflict and insecurity grow and governments' development policies fail to reach the socially excluded people with almost no opportunities to build a better life. This paper from the UK Department for International Development deals with social exclusion and the ways in which governments and NGOs can eliminate it.

Connecting Nature, Power and Poverty (August 31, 2005)

A World Resources Institute report argues that poverty elimination and the preservation of natural resources are closely interlinked. This article argues that public control of environmental resources should replace former policies of privatization. (Inter Press Service)

The Hope and Hype of Microcredit (August 10, 2005)

Microcredit schemes seek to fight poverty by extending loans to very poor people, especially women, for starting or expanding businesses. Even though the United Nations declared 2005 the official year of microcredit, some researchers question its efficiency because sometimes recipients are not able to repay their loans. Furthermore, microcredit does not always target the poorest and less educated people and instead creates social inequalities. (Inter Press Service)

UN Millennium Summit in Danger of Being Hijacked (August 2, 2005)

This Inter Press Service article predicts that debates on UN reform, peacekeeping, terrorism and human rights will eclipse the projected development theme of the upcoming Millennium +5 Summit in September 2005. With the Millennium Development Goals already far from meeting their 2015 target, further sidelining of the development agenda would damage the UN's credibility, writes the author.

We Must Put More on the Plate to Fight Poverty (July 5, 2005)

Under international pressure, the Group of Eight (G8) leaders committed to increase aid to Africa, but far more support is needed to fight global poverty than what the leaders pledged in Gleneagles. The Bush administration "should rethink its modest commitments," according to this Washington Post article, for humanitarian reasons as well as for security concerns. Poverty contributes not only to the spread of terrorism, but also increases the risk of epidemics, "crime, narcotics trafficking, environmental degradation and weapons proliferation." (Washington Post)

Why Turn a Blind Eye to Tyranny? (July 4, 2005)

Debt relief and increased aid cannot alone alleviate poverty in Africa, according to this International Herald Tribune editorial. Rather than oversimplifying the debate on aid to Africa, world leaders would do well to attack the root causes of poverty, such as corruption and human rights violations, if they are committed to "making poverty history." Aid to Africa must be accompanied by "an equally serious effort to address human rights violations," or world leaders will risk strengthening and funding the abusive governments responsible for so much of the continent's misery. (International Herald Tribune)

Africa Needs Food Security, Not Experimental Crops (July 1, 2005)

Although biotechnology corporations -and some governments- are promoting genetically modified (GM) crops as a "miracle solution" to world hunger, the use of GM crops could "do more damage than good." Rather than investing millions of dollars in a "grandiose biological experiment" without a clear idea of how it will help African farmers and consumers, governments and corporations should investigate alternative, region-specific solutions to poverty and hunger. (Inter Press Service)

The East-West Economic Corridor: The Burma Road to Maldevelopment (June 28, 2005)

Southeast Asia has benefited from rapid economic growth, spurring demand for improved infrastructure throughout the region. The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), a group of six countries within the Mekong River basin, is the focus of a massive development project, which includes the East-West Economic Corridor. This road will connect Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, creating the first land route from the Andaman Sea to the South China Sea. Unfortunately, GMS development exemplifies the irresponsible and damaging nature of large-scale projects—as it ignores Myanmar's grave human rights abuses, disregards the adverse environmental impacts, and marginalizes the poor, who will be most negatively affected. (EarthRights International)

Jeffrey Sachs: 'Don't Let the G8 Leaders Leave Scotland Without a Serious Plan for Ending Poverty' (June 20, 2005)

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the UN Millennium Development Project, describes in this interview with the Independent how simple and inexpensive it can be to end poverty. Poverty is "not just something that just happens, like rain. It is something that we can change in a short period of time." Man-made and preventable pitfalls are trapping poor countries in a cycle of debt and poverty. "The G8 is the time for the world to stand up and say, 'no more,' " Sachs argues. (Independent)

Doha Declaration Adopted: Accord to Revitalize S-S Cooperation (June 16, 2005)

In preparation for the Group of Eight summit in Scotland, countries from the Group of 77 met to adopt their Doha Declaration and the Doha Plan of Action. The Group of 132 poor countries called for increased South-South cooperation and trade, more focus on sustainable development, and a more open and fair global trading system. (Bernama)

Millennium Development Goals Report 2005 (May 2005)

In preparation for the Millennium+5 Summit at the United Nations in September 2005, this report details the progress, or rather the lack of progress, toward the eight Millennium Development Goals, and how large an effort is needed to achieve them. The report represents the most comprehensive accounting to date on how far the world has come toward achieving these goals. While some countries are on track to achieving the goals, Sub-Saharan Africa lags far behind and will require unprecedented effort and action. (United Nations)

"We Don't Do Childhood Poverty - We Do Large Roads!" (April 2005)

This Save the Children Europe report examines the European Union's efforts to realize the UN Millennium Development Goals with regard to childhood poverty. According to the report, the EU has so far largely failed to focus on children's issues despite the fact that over 600 million children - an estimated one in four - live in absolute poverty worldwide. The report recommends the EU adopt a more coherent strategy to address children's rights, bring children to the forefront of its development agenda and increase its foreign aid spending. (Save the Children Europe)

Military Gobbles Funds Earmarked for Social Development (February 7, 2005)

Growing military spending and the "war on terrorism" are diverting economic resources from social development, warns a new UN report. At present, governments spend about 20 times more on defense and anti-terrorism measures than on economic and social development worldwide. According to the president of the Washington-based Population Institute, saving on social programs is short-sighted and will only "breed alienation, discontent, rebellion, and terrorism." (Inter Press Service)

Mission Possible: Can the Millennium Development Goals be Saved? (February 6, 2005)

Despite some alarming statistics that suggest it could take up to a hundred years to implement the "ludicrously optimistic" Millennium Development Goals, this Boston Globe commentator believes Jeffrey Sachs' Millennium Project recommendations greatly improve their achievability. (Boston Globe)

UN Aims to Cut Poverty in Half as Experts Wonder How to Measure It (February 3, 2005)

Halving extreme poverty by 2015 is a central objective of the UN's Millennium Development Goals. However, defining and measuring poverty is not only complicated, but it is also susceptible to political influence. Unless the World Bank takes measures to ensure the impartiality of its staff, meeting the poverty reduction target could involve more statistical manipulation than actual progress. (New York Times) 

Helsinki Process Proposes a G-20 Summit to Bridge North-South Gap (January 27, 2005)

Three reports from Helsinki Process Track Groups underline the need for global political leadership to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals. The reports argue that the current G7/G8 is too narrow in its membership and propose a more inclusive regular summit of 20 heads of state. The Track Groups also recommend full cancellation of poor country debt, doubling aid and reforming global agricultural trade. (Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy)

UN Proposes Doubling of Aid to Cut Poverty (January 18, 2005)

Millennium Project head Jeffrey Sachs revealed an ambitious set of proposals designed to help the world meet the Millennium Development Goals. The report advocates for the doubling of aid to poor countries from a quarter of one percent of national incomes to a half of one percent. Human rights advocates have expressed concern that the recommendations do not adequately emphasize "the need [...] to make deep political and social changes to reduce poverty." (New York Times)

Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals (January 17, 2005)

This report from the UN Millennium Project lays out a comprehensive strategy for combating global poverty, hunger and disease. With an investment of just 0.5 % of their incomes, the industrialized countries can cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 – but they have to act right now. (UN Millennium Project)

Poverty, Disease, Environmental Decline Are True 'Axis of Evil' (January 12, 2005)

The State of the World 2005 Report from the Worldwatch Institute argues that the "war on terror" is diverting world's attention from more serious threats to global instability. Poverty, infectious disease and environmental degradation create conditions in which extremism thrives and new conflicts emerge. Dealing with these challenges requires preventive engagement rather than use of brute military force. (Worldwatch Institute)

UN Emergency Coordinator Rebuffs Critics Who Say Tsunami Relief Was Too Slow (January 4, 2005)

While the world has responded with engagement and aid to the Asian tsunami disaster, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland remains frustrated over rich countries' reluctance to prevent the daily and needless deaths of 30,000 children. Poverty, preventable diseases and neglect cause a "tsunami every week" says Egeland. (UN News)

Making Natural Resources into a Blessing Rather than a Curse (2005)

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz calls for changes in both rich and poor countries' natural resource policy that deplete resources and marginalize citizens in the exporting country. Stiglitz argues that resource-rich countries should use money from resource extraction towards high return investments to further long term economic growth. Furthermore, Northern countries and the International Monetary Fund must stop the demand that countries privatize resources because profits then go to foreign firms. (Excerpt from Covering Oil: A Reporter's Guide to Energy and Development)


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