Sustainable development has long been a focus of aid efforts. However, sustainable development requires a vital component to its success and that is the elimination of poverty. The United Nations Sustainable Development action plan, Agenda 21, placed great importance on the “multidimensional” nature of poverty while bringing global attention to the concept of sustainability. To this day, poverty relief efforts have utilized sustainability strategies to aid and more importantly empower communities.
In 1997, the General Assembly of the United Nations “decided that poverty eradication should be an overriding theme of sustainable development for the coming years.” Following the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, The C.S.S. or Commission on Sustainable Development has made poverty eradication an important objective on their agenda every year since. Moreover, every year since, society has progressed, developing more efficient and sustainable methods for addressing hunger and other poverty related issues.
Approximately 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty. 900 million of that population are chronically undernourished and one billion suffer due to lack of proper vitamins and minerals. But how does this effect sustainable development?
Writer Mark Tran of the Gaurdian writes “undernourishment in children prevents them from ever reaching their full physical and cognitive potential, costing lives, livelihoods and economic growth.” Furthermore, Tran goes on to explain that sustainable development efforts will be pointless if we are not able to address hunger and protect the resources we depend upon for survival. A 2013 report entitled A New Global Partnership by the United Nations High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons shares a similar viewpoint. Two of the report’s five areas of transformation include putting “sustainable development at the core” and a “rapid shift to sustainable patterns of consumption and production.”
In regard to the post-2015 development agenda the report explains that “without ending poverty, we cannot build prosperity” and “without environmental sustainability, we cannot end poverty.” The report also emphasized that the world must go beyond the established Millennium Development Goals if it wishes to aid the very poorest and most excluded groups of people.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said in regard to this report that “we need a new global partnership to finish the job on the current MDGs, tackle the underlying causes of poverty and champion sustainable development.”
The issues of poverty and sustainability are strongly connected. We cannot create successful sustainable developments without addressing both issues. It is an inverse relationship that is vital to the success of eradicating poverty. As we decrease poverty we must also increase sustainability, so that communities can continue to grow on their own after the aid is gone.
– Christopher Kolezynski