In 2012, 13 percent of the world’s population lived below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day, down from 37 percent in 1990. Declines in all regions contributed to the early success of meeting the Millennium Development Goal target of halving extreme poverty globally. Sustainable Development Goal 1 builds on this and proposes ending poverty in all forms by 2030. It also aims to ensure social protection for poor and vulnerable people, to increase access to basic services, and to support people harmed by conflict and climate-related disasters.
Eradicating extreme poverty
The Sustainable Development Goal target of eliminating extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030 is very ambitious.
In East Asia and Pacific the extreme poverty rate fell from 61 percent in 1990 to 7 percent in 2012, and in South Asia it fell from 51 percent to 19 percent (figure 1a). In contrast, Sub- Saharan Africa’s extreme poverty rate did not fall below its 1990 level until 2002. Based on national growth rates over the past 10 years, the global extreme poverty rate is estimated to be below 10 percent in 2015, a drop of more than two-thirds since 1990.
Reducing poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions
Like the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals recognize that poverty is defined differently by national authorities.
Some countries define poverty rates using benchmarks based on income.
More recently, some countries — such as Colombia and Mexico — have adopted measures that aim to capture the multidimensional nature of poverty by assessing the extent to which households are deprived in different ways (such as health, education, housing, and labor market opportunities).
Increasing social protection for those most in need
Social protection programs include social assistance. Despite progress over the past decade, most poor people remain outside social protection systems, especially in low-income countries.
Only one out of five people receives one or more types of social protection benefit in lowincome countries, compared with two out of three in upper middle-income countries (figure 1c).
Overall, social assistance transfers are not large enough to close the poverty gap in the poorest countries.
Social protection programs are as cash transfers, school feeding, and targeted food assistance, and social insurance and labor market programs, such as old-age pensions, disability pensions, unemployment insurance, skills training, and wage subsidies. Only one out of five people receives one or more types of social protection benefit in lowincome countries, compared with two out of three in upper middle-income countries (figure 1c).
The coverage gap is particularly acute in Sub- Saharan Africa and South Asia, where most of the world’s extremely poor people live. In Sub- Saharan Africa only 15 percent of people in the bottom income quintile have access to a social protection benefit (figure 1d).