Ending Poverty


Mass media headlines tend to focus on the ghastly events of the day, leaving longer term and more positive developments to slip by unnoticed. This week a couple of my favourite thinkers have popped up on the media. Hans Rosling is a Swedish doctor, epidemiologist and statistician whose videos are a joy to watch with beautifully presented graphics. A few days ago the BBC gave him a one hour slot to show why eradicating global poverty is a realistic, achievable and necessary policy goal. It’s well worth watching the whole programme on iPlayer: ‘Don’t Panic – How to end poverty in 15 years’. Amazing the achievements of recent history, and so little reported as ‘news’. Stephen Pinker writing in the Guardian Weekly updated the arguments he made in his 2011 book ‘The Better Angles of our Nature’ showing that all forms of violence, from wars to homicide and domestic violence, all seem to be in decline. Of course these positive trends could all too easily be reversed, but they could also be accelerated, it’s largely a matter of political will.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit was held over the last few days in New York. Media coverage has been minimal. The 17 goals the UN hope humanity can achieve over the next 15 years are powerful and important. Read the full list on the Global Goals link below. The list includes ending extreme poverty and hunger, tackling climate change while providing clean and affordable energy for all, tackling inequality, promoting education, opportunities and access to decent work while reducing pollution, restoring biodiversity and making the world a safer place for all: all worthy goals and potentially all achievable. Much good work is quietly going on, but so very much more could and should be done. Political leadership and media support have been the missing ingredients. The BBC giving Hans Rosling a slot in the run-up to the New York summit was a rare exception, and the sort of thing we could do more of.

Hans Rosling http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06drxls/this-world-dont-panic-how-to-end-poverty-in-15-years

The global goals http://www.globalgoals.org/