Good News in the War on Poverty

Good news about global poverty? Yes! And there is much more than you’d expect!

In 2015, countries around the world adopted the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 targets intended to combat poverty, reduce inequality, improve global health outcomes and protect the planet. Prior to the SDGs, the incredibly successful Millennium Development Goals concluded in 2015 after 25 years of remarkable achievements in tackling global poverty. The SDGs seek to further expand upon these accomplishments, with a key target to end extreme poverty for all people by 2030.

  1. In 2015, the percentage of the global population living in extreme poverty fell below 10 percent for the first time.
  2. In 2015, 702 million people lived in extreme poverty, down from 902 million in 2012 and 1.9 billion in 1990.
  3. Ten percent of the world’s population lived at or below $1.90 a day in 2015, down from 36 percent in 1990. Overall, global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000.
  4. In East Asia and the Pacific, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty took a nosedive from 60.2 percent in 1990 to just 3.5 percent in 2013.
  5. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), new malaria cases in 2015 fell by 21 percent compared to 2010 levels and during the same period, global malaria mortality rates plummeted 29 percent.
  6. Since 2003, annual AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 43 percent and, in the worst-affected areas, the number of people currently on life-saving treatment has more than doubled since 2010.
  7. According to the WHO, HIV/AIDS is no longer the leading cause of death in Africa.
  8. In 2017, the World Poverty Clock launched, tracking the progress toward the 17 SDG goals. It currently estimates that one person escapes extreme poverty every second — equivalent to 86,400 every day.
  9. According to June 2017 figures, world internet usage now stands at 51 percent, up from 43 percent in 2015 and continuing the incredible growth rate since 2000, when only 7 percent of the global population was online.
  10. The cost of starting a business in sub-Saharan Africa decreased dramatically from 300 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) per capita in 2003 to roughly 50 percent in 2016, a decrease of more than 80 percent.
  11. Global carbon dioxide emissions in 2016 were flat for a third straight year, despite the global economy growing 3.1 percent.
  12. In 2017, 71 percent of the global population, or 5.3 billion people, used a safely managed drinking-water service, one located on-premises, available when needed and free from contamination.
  13. From 1999-2012, primary school enrollment in sub-Saharan Africa rose by 75 percent, to 144 million children.
  14. The number of underweight children under the age of five dropped from 160 million in 1990 to 93 million in 2015, despite the rise in global population.
  15. Since 2000, maternal mortality rates declined by 38 percent in 2017.
  16. Women made up a quarter of all parliamentary seats in 2016, a fourfold increase over the previous 20 years.
  17. In more than half the countries measured in the World Bank’s 2017 World Development Indicators report, the poorest 40 percent of the population experienced faster income growth than the national average between 2008 and 2013.
  18. The poverty gap declined from $300 billion in 1980 to $80 billion in 2015. And while foreign aid spending has eclipsed the poverty gap in recent years, a considerable part of this is earmarked for broader infrastructure spending and public goods (global health, food programs and the like).