The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020
by Antonio Guterres,
Secretary-General, United Nations
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was launched in 2015 to end poverty and set the world on a path of peace, prosperity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demand nothing short of a transformation of the financial, economic and political systems that govern our societies today to guarantee the human rights of all.
They require immense political will and ambitious action by all stakeholders. But, as Member States recognized at the SDGs Summit held last September, global efforts to date have been insufficient to deliver the change we need, jeopardizing the Agenda’s promise to current and future generations.
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020 brings together the latest data to show us that, before the COVID-19 pandemic, progress remained uneven and we were not on track to meet the Goals by 2030. Some gains were visible: the share of children and youth out of school had fallen; the incidence of many communicable diseases was in decline; access to safely managed drinking water had improved; and women’s representation in leadership roles was increasing.
At the same time, the number of people suffering from food insecurity was on the rise, the natural environment continued to deteriorate at an alarming rate, and dramatic levels of inequality persisted in all regions. Change was still not happening at the speed or scale required.
Now, due to COVID-19, an unprecedented health, economic and social crisis is threatening lives and livelihoods, making the achievement of Goals even more challenging. As of the beginning of June, the death toll had surpassed 400,000 and was continuing to climb, with almost no country spared. Health systems in many countries have been driven to the brink of collapse. The livelihood of half the global workforce has been severely affected. More than 1.6 billion students are out of school and tens of millions of people are being pushed back into extreme poverty and hunger, erasing the modest progress made in recent years.
Although the Novel Coronavirus affects every person and community, it does not do so equally. Instead, it has exposed and exacerbated existing inequalities and injustices. In advanced economies, fatality rates have been highest among marginalized groups.
In developing countries, the most vulnerable – including those employed in the informal economy, older people, children, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, migrants and refugees – risk being hit even harder.
Across the globe, young people are being disproportionately affected, particularly in the world of work. Women and girls are facing new barriers and new threats, ranging from a shadow pandemic of violence to additional burdens of unpaid care work.
Far from undermining the case for the SDGs, the root causes and uneven impacts of COVID-19 demonstrate precisely why we need the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and underscore the urgency of their implementation. I have therefore consistently called for a coordinated and comprehensive international response and recovery effort, based on sound data and science and guided by the Sustainable Development Goals.
Health systems must be urgently strengthened in countries that are at greatest risk, with increased capacity for testing, tracing and treatment. Universal access to treatments and vaccines, when they become available, is essential.
A large-scale multilateral response is needed to ensure that developing countries have the resources they need to protect households and businesses. Recovery packages must facilitate the shift to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy and support universal access to quality public services.
At the start of this Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs, I call for renewed ambition, mobilization, leadership and collective action, not just to beat COVID-19 but to recover better, together – winning the race against climate change, decisively tackling poverty and inequality, truly empowering all women and girls and creating more inclusive and equitable societies everywhere.
UN Poverty expert underlines the ‘anguish, stress and disempowerment’ of poverty. (UN News, agencies)
More people are expected to fall into extreme poverty because of COVID-19, the UN Human Rights Council has heard as a leading rights expert criticized “greatly exaggerated” claims of global poverty eradication between 1990 and 2015.
Highlighting his predecessor Philip Alstom’s final report, UN-appointed independent Special Rapporteur Olivier de Schutter, insisted that without China’s “outsized contribution” in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty during that period, overall progress globally towards reversing the scourge, suddenly appeared far less impressive.
According to the World Bank’s international poverty line (IPL) – which is subsisting on $1.90 per day - the number of people in extreme poverty fell from 1.895 billion in 1990, to 736 million in 2015.
But this includes the 750 million people in China living below the poverty line in 1990, who numbered just 10 million in 2015, the Special Rapporteur explained, before questioning the “very weak, unsatisfactory” World Bank measure of poverty.
“Leaving out China, the number of people living below the $2.50 USD per day would barely have changed throughout this period, and it would have increased by 140 million people in Sub-Saharan African and the Middle East”, Mr. de Schutter said.
In local currencies, $1.90 “translates to living on 7.49 yuan per day in China, 1.41 euros in Portugal, 22.49 pesos in Mexico, 50.83 roubles in Russia, 355.18 naira in Nigeria, 910.15 pesos in Chile, or 36.27 rupees in India”, he said.
“The international poverty line is of course well below the national poverty lines of most countries, and accordingly generates dramatically lower numbers in poverty.”
Highlighting calls to adopt a much more realistic measure of poverty than the IPL baseline amount, the Special Rapporteur noted that it could be based on meeting people’s basic needs – and particularly children’s - which the Council heard were twice as likely as adults to be living in poverty.
“If you speak to people in poverty and ask them about their experience of poverty, they will tell you about the anguish, the stress, the disempowerment, the discrimination and the social and institutional abuse”, he said, before urging Member States to focus less on economic growth solely as a means to reduce poverty, and more on the reduction of inequalities and the redistribution of wealth.
The report states that the pandemic will push 176 million more people into extreme poverty, compounding long-standing neglect of low-income people, including women, migrant workers and refugees. The international community's poor record on tackling poverty, inequality and disregard for human life far precede this pandemic, the report says.
"Many world leaders, economists, and pundits have enthusiastically promoted a self-congratulatory message, proclaiming progress against poverty to be one of the greatest human achievements of our time," the report says. "The reality is that billions face few opportunities, countless indignities, unnecessary hunger and preventable death, and do not enjoy basic human rights."
"In too many cases, the promised benefits of growth either don't materialise or aren't shared," the report says. "The global economy has doubled since the end of the Cold War, yet half the world lives under $5.50 a day, primarily because the benefits of growth have largely gone to the wealthiest."
The world needs new strategies, genuine mobilisation, empowerment and accountability "to avoid sleepwalking towards failure while releasing more bland reports", the report says.
Tax justice is key to ensure governments have the money needed for social protection: in 2015, multinationals shifted an estimated 40 percent of their profits to tax havens, while global corporate tax rates have fallen from an average of 40.38 percent in 1980 to 24.18 percent in 2019. De Schutter also called for establishment of a social protection fund to help countries give the poorest basic social security guarantees.
"Growth alone, without far more robust redistribution of wealth, would fail to effectively tackle poverty," said De Schutter. "Based on historic growth rates, it would take 200 years to eradicate poverty under a $5 a day line and would require a 173-fold increase in global GDP." That, he added, is "an entirely unrealistic prospect, not least since it does not take into account the environmental degradation associated to the economic growth, or the impacts of climate change on poverty itself".
In addition, States “have tolerated aggressive practices of tax avoidance by transnational corporations” which had cost States $650 billion per year, the Special Rapporteur’s findings suggest, in addition to deregulating labour markets and privatising public services, which had led to an increase in the cost to users.
"I welcome this report, which illustrates that poverty is not a matter only of low incomes," said De Schutter. "It's a matter of disempowerment, of institutional and social abuse, and of discrimination. It is the price we pay for societies that exclude people whose contributions are not recognised. Eradicating poverty means building inclusive societies that shift from a charity approach to a rights-based empowering approach."
* Access the report: http://bit.ly/2Z8s5Lo
http://bit.ly/2CiaBDg http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session44/Pages/ListReports.aspx http://srpoverty.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Alston-Poverty-Report-FINAL.pdf http://srpoverty.org/ http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/jul/07/we-squandered-a-decade-world-losing-fight-against-poverty-says-un-academic http://news.trust.org/item/20200707170510-1izgn/ http://www.un.org/pga/74/wp-content/uploads/sites/99/2020/05/PGA-Alliance-for-Poverty-Eradication-1-1.pdf http://srpoverty.org/2020/07/01/statement-in-support-of-the-alliance-for-poverty-eradication/
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Record numbers of people have been forced to flee their homes
by Filippo Grandi
UN High Commissioner for Refugees
19 June 2020
We are marking this year’s World Refugee Day against a backdrop of a dramatic global crisis. Not only are record numbers of people forced to flee their homes, but the world is grappling with COVID-19, a disease that is still very much affecting us all. What started as a health crisis has expanded, and today many of the most vulnerable – refugees and the displaced amongst them – face a pandemic of poverty.
Yet, throughout this challenging time, we have also seen a connectedness that transcends borders. Ordinary people have stepped up to help. Host communities – especially those in low- and middle-income countries where nearly 90 percent of the world’s refugees live – have continued to demonstrate a remarkable welcome.
And refugees themselves are also contributing in significant ways, despite often living in extremely vulnerable conditions. They are, for example, volunteering as front line health workers in Colombia and the United Kingdom; making soap for distribution in Lebanon and Niger; sewing masks and protective gear in Iran; helping construct isolation centres in Bangladesh; and elsewhere around the world, they are contributing time to help the needy in their host communities.
As we battle COVID-19, I draw inspiration from the resilience refugees have shown in overcoming their own crisis of displacement and dispossession; their separation from home and family; and their determination to improve their own and others’ lives, despite these and other hardships.
On World Refugee Day, I salute and celebrate the fortitude of refugees and displaced people around the world. I also pay tribute to the communities that shelter them and that have demonstrated the universally shared values and principles of compassion and humanity. They have sometimes hosted and protected refugees for years or even generations, and continuing to uphold these values in a time of pandemic is a powerful message of hope and solidarity.
UNHCR is no stranger to challenges. For over 70 years we have been on the frontlines of countless emergencies. Yet this global pandemic is of an entirely new magnitude. Our priority has been and will be, to stay and deliver for the refugees, internally displaced and stateless people we are mandated to protect. But we can’t do it alone.
Mobilizing help and support to prepare and respond to the pandemic has been vital in the past months. And we have seen how countries and communities around the world have included refugees in their own national health responses. It is now equally critical to secure refugees’ and displaced persons’ inclusion in the much-needed socio-economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Global Compact on Refugees has laid a strong foundation for this response. We have seen it in action as various actors have responded to this crisis to support refugees through host governments. Such support must continue and be redoubled so that they have the resources necessary to include refugees and displaced people and ensure that economic and social disparities do not lead to rifts within and between communities. More must also be invested in countries of origin to make the return of refugees a viable option.
On this World Refugee Day, I call for greater global solidarity and action to include and support refugees, internally displaced and stateless people as well as their hosts.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the recent anti-racism protests have shown us how desperately we need to fight for a more inclusive and equal world. A world where no one is left behind. It has never been clearer that all of us have a role to play in order to bring about change.
Everyone can make a difference. This is at the heart of UNHCR’s World Refugee Day campaign. This year, we aim to remind the world that everyone, including refugees, can contribute to society, and Every Action Counts in the effort to create a more just, inclusive, and equal world. Whoever you are. No matter where you come from. Every one of us can make a difference.
# UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We deliver life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality.
One per cent of the world’s population has been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution to seek safety either somewhere within their country or in another country, according to the latest Global Trends report released today by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
UNHCR,is appealing to countries worldwide to do far more to find homes for millions of refugees and others displaced by conflict, persecution or events seriously disturbing public order. This is as the report released today showed that forced displacement is now affecting more than one per cent of humanity – 1 in every 97 people – and with fewer and fewer of those who flee being able to return home.
UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report, shows that an unprecedented 79.5 million were displaced as of the end of 2019. UNHCR has not seen a higher total.
The report also notes diminishing prospects for refugees when it comes to hopes of any quick end to their plight. In the 1990s, on average 1.5 million refugees were able to return home each year. Over the past decade that number has fallen to around 385,000, meaning that growth in displacement is today far outstripping solutions.
“We are witnessing a changed reality in that forced displacement nowadays is not only vastly more widespread but is simply no longer a short-term and temporary phenomenon,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“People cannot be expected to live in a state of upheaval for years on end, without a chance of going home, nor a hope of building a future where they are. We need a fundamentally new and more accepting attitude towards all who flee, coupled with a much more determined drive to unlock conflicts that go on for years and that are at the root of such immense suffering.”
UNHCR’s Global Trends report shows that of the 79.5 million who were displaced at the end of last year, 45.7 million were people who had fled to other areas of their own countries. The rest were people displaced elsewhere, 4.2 million of them being people awaiting the outcome of asylum requests, while 29.6 million were refugees and others forcibly displaced outside their country.
The annual increase, from a figure of 70.8 million at the end of 2018, is a result of two main factors. First is worrying new displacement in 2019, particularly in Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sahel, Yemen and Syria – the latter now in its tenth year of conflict and accounting on its own for 13.2 million refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people, fully a sixth of the world’s total.
Second is a better presentation of the situation of Venezuelans outside their country, many of whom are not legally registered as refugees or asylum-seekers, but for whom protection-sensitive arrangements are required.
And within all of these numbers is a multitude of individual and very personal crises. As many children (estimated at 30-34 million, tens of thousands of them unaccompanied) are among the displaced. Meanwhile, the proportion of displaced aged 60 and above (4 per cent) is far below that of the world population (12 per cent) – a statistic that speaks to immeasurable heartbreak, desperation, sacrifice and being torn apart from loved ones.
8 things you need to know about forced displacement today
100 million people at least were forced to flee their homes in the past decade, seeking refugee either in or outside their countries. That’s more people fleeing than the entire population of Egypt, the world’s 14th most populous country.
Forced displacement has almost doubled since 2010 (41 million then vs 79.5 million now).
80 per cent of the world’s displaced people are in countries or territories affected by acute food insecurity and malnutrition – many of them countries facing climate and other disaster risk.
More than three-quarters of the world’s refugees (77 per cent) are caught up in situations of long-term displacement – for example the situation in Afghanistan, now in its fifth decade.
More than eight of every 10 refugees (85 per cent) are in developing countries, generally a country neighbouring the one they fled.
Five countries account for two-thirds of people displaced across borders: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar.
Global Trends Report counts all major displaced and refugee populations, including the 5.6 million Palestine refugees who fall under the care of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine.
The 2030 Sustainable Development commitment of “leaving no one behind” now explicitly includes refugees, thanks to a new indicator on refugees approved by the UN Statistical Commission in March this year.
http://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2019/ http://www.unhcr.org/emergencies.html http://www.unhcr.org/en-au/news/latest/2020/6/5eeba28c4/resolving-displacement-critical-regional-international-stability-un-refugee.html http://www.unhcr.org/stories.html
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