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Eradication of Poverty Day Focuses on Sustainability and Inclusive Development

17 October 2011: This year's commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty promoted recognition that a sustainable future is not reachable when over 40% of the world's population, about 2.6 billion people, live in poverty and face threats from natural disasters and economic shocks. 

Representatives of States, civil society and the UN System gathered to mark the annual Day, held under the theme – “From Poverty to Sustainability: People at the Centre of Inclusive Development."

In his message to mark the Day at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 17 October 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized that people must be at the core of development, and that the economic crisis, food and energy prices, climate change and natural disasters challenges can be overcome.

Delivering a keynote speech at the Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum, in Beijing, China, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark emphasized the need to prioritize measures to promote sustainable human development in order to deal with global economic problems, climate change, environmental degradation, and the increasing numbers of natural disasters. She noted that to reduce poverty and inequality, policies should: stimulate the economic sectors where the poor work; invest in infrastructure and services where the poor live; and increase access to safe water, sanitation and reliable energy in those areas. She also indicated that social protection is critical to building resilience, and environmental protection is at the core of sustainable human development, which cannot be sustained if ecosystems are depleted. Environment-related health problems, including diarrhea, malaria, and acute respiratory diseases, are the top killers of children under five in developing countries, she noted.

She also indicated the need to address climate change by promoting green investments, including energy efficiency and renewable energy as described in the UN Secretary-General's agenda for Sustainable Energy for All.

UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director General Irina Bokova highlighted work towards the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development; the promotion of science and technology for the benefit of all, including generating new jobs for green economies; and the protection of cultural heritage and diversity as motors for sustainable development and poverty reduction.

Also in a message to mark the Day, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) noted that at least 70% of the poor – or 1.4 billion people – live in rural areas of developing countries. Regarding the current crisis in the Horn of Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) noted that more than 12 million people have been affected and are suffering the highest rates of malnutrition and extreme hunger, due to poverty, inadequate resources, drought and climate change. AfDB estimates that almost 250 million people in sub-Saharan Africa will suffer prolonged hunger by 2020. [Statement of UN Secretary-General] [UNDP Administrator's Keynote Speech] [UN Press Release, 17 October] [UN Press Release, 14 October] [Statement of UNESCO Director-General] [UNDP Press Release] [IFAD Press Release] [AfDB Press Release] [Statement of UN General Assembly President]