As we discussed on Monday, the eradication of extreme poverty is one of the primary goals set forth in “A New Global Partnership,” the United Nations report released last week proposing a new agenda for development goals for the years after 2015. The Report took it as a given that this goal cannot be met without a radical change in how the world conducts itself:
“Progress… is possible, but only if governments (at all levels), multilateral institutions, businesses, and civil society organizations are willing to change course and reject business-as-usual… They can join forces, tackle poverty, the economy and the environment together, and bring about a paradigm shift.”
Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Chapter 1, p. 1.
That’s the big question, isn’t it? Are institutions – and of course by necessity, the people who create and run them – willing to change the way they do things?
Here’s a staggering statistic from the Report that expresses why this shift is necessary: the 1.2 billion poorest people in the world account for only 1% of total world consumption; the 1 billion wealthiest account for 72%. (Executive Summary, p. 1)
What can be done about this imbalance? How much consumption is too much? Who has to sacrifice, and when, and how much? Who gets to decide?
When confronted with the blunt numbers, it becomes clear that things have to change. What, and how, are questions that we have to consider together.