By: Donald Lee (United States)
The International Committee for October 17 welcomes and appreciates the theme chosen by the United Nations, in consultation with activists, civil society and non-governmental organizations, for the 2014 commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
The choice of this theme underscores the United Nations’ recognition of the demanding challenge confronting grass roots initiatives, as well as researchers and policy makers, to identify and secure the participation of those experiencing extreme poverty and social exclusion in the “post-2015 Agenda” following the Millennium Development Goals1. This challenge can only be met by increased commitments at the political, economic, social and cultural levels in all countries.
The call to “Leave no one behind” points to the urgent need to eliminate discrimination based on poverty, ethnic origin, gender, or economic and social status. It requires us to actively reach out to the most impoverished and excluded groups in our societies. It also requires that we must align development policies and targets, and their implementation, with human rights norms and standards, in keeping with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights2.
The call “To think, decide and act together against extreme poverty” points to the urgent need to include people living in poverty as new partners in building knowledge about more sustainable forms of development3. Only by creating and nurturing a genuine partnership with people living with poverty at the heart of development projects can we shape a world where all people can enjoy decent lives and have a place in their community.
This call requires that we promote an economy that respects people and the environment. In a world with limited natural resources and rapidly growing inequalities, a profound economic transformation is needed, particularly in production and consumption models, to reduce inequality, to eradicate extreme poverty and stop the plundering of natural resources. Full employment and decent work for all should be supported by new investments for the transition to a more environmentally friendly economic model, with the implementation of social safety nets in all countries.
It also requires that we promote and provide education and training for all based on the principle of cooperation, not on competition, among students, teachers, parents and communities. We must eliminate hidden barriers to quality education (like discrimination or additional costs), build cooperative forms of education in partnership with communities, and ensure high quality education with improved results4 for people in poverty.
It further requires that we actively promote peace through participatory good governance. When we work as partners means that we must help communities to strengthen their own support organisations and ensure that national and international institutions create genuine participatory mechanisms at all levels. There must be accountability and grievance mechanisms at local, national and international levels.
Donald L. Lee