18 March 2013

What Bono and UNDP Say About Ending Extreme Poverty

Bono loves data and said so in his February TED talk, which was recently released in video. He says the promise of ending extreme poverty turns him on.

“If the trajectory continues we get to the ‘zero zone.’ For number crunchers like us, that is the erogenous zone,” says Bono. “And it’s fair to say, by now, that I am sexually aroused by the collating of data.”

Extreme poverty has been halved from 43% of the world in 1990 to 21% by 2000. The current trends show that extreme poverty could end by 2030, say the World Bank, ONE and CGD.

However, the most recent data (aka UNDP’s Human Development Report (HDR) 2013) suggests that ending extreme poverty will get harder if we don’t take more action:

“Environmental inaction, especially regarding climate change, has the potential to halt or even reverse human development progress. The number of people in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050 unless environmental disasters are averted by co-ordinated global action,” says the report.

The report includes the annual Human Development Index (HDI), a measure of the development progress of 187 countries. Bono and UNDP both agree that there have been impressive global gains against extreme poverty over the past few decades. However, the driver of the change comes from the larger countries like India, Brazil and China. Meanwhile, smaller countries are not left behind. Rwanda, Angola, Niger and Mail join ten other countries that have improved by an annual rate of over 2% each year in the HDI since 2000.