Belfast Telegraph

An historic chance to end poverty

By Jim Clarken

Next year will see key decisions which will profoundly impact the world's poorest people for many years, with deadlines set for climate negotiations and the creation of new UN development goals.

World leaders previously agreed the Millennium Development Goals, to be delivered by 2015: to halve poverty, ensure all children receive a primary education, improve healthcare and dramatically reduce the number of women and children dying in childbirth.

Some real progress has been made. The proportion of people living in poverty has been halved. But any gains are now threatened by growing inequality in a world where 870 million people still go to bed hungry.

Ireland and Kenya are co-chairing the UN negotiations to finalise the replacements for the 2015 goals. With this responsibility comes an amazing opportunity to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.

While overall global poverty may be declining, income inequality is soaring, as billions of people are being left behind by unsustainable economic growth.

Globally, including here at home, the gap between rich and poor is widening.

In their new Sustainable Development Goals, global leaders should first address a goal tackling inequality.

Introducing a living wage would be a strong commitment to decent living in society.

Secondly, we need a new global tax deal to replace the current toxic system that hurts European and developing countries alike.

Thirdly, empowering women must be a cornerstone of any development plan.

Women make an enormous contribution to economic development when their rights are respected and their voices are heard.

The year 2015 is the European Year of Development and we have an historic opportunity to solve the global challenges of peace, poverty and inequality.

With the right decisions, everyone can enjoy their human rights, live equitably and free from the injustice of poverty, on a planet that has the natural resources to sustain them.

What a legacy that would be.

  • Jim Clarken is chief executive of Oxfam Ireland

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