2015 - Message from the International Committee for October 17
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Message for the World Day for Overcoming Poverty & the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty  - 17th October 2015

The observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty this year is very significant because it comes so soon after the launch of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We welcome the declaration by all countries in the 2030 Agenda that they are “determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions” as well as their pledge that “no one will be left behind”.

We know only too well that when poverty is measured only in terms of money, it diminishes the dignity of people living in poverty and their daily struggle to overcome poverty. It sidesteps the recognition of poverty as a denial of human rights or that poverty is complex and multi-­dimensional in nature.

And when global leaders in 2000 set out to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty, they effectively abandoned millions of men, women and children to struggle against poverty on their own. Some world leaders would like us to believe that we are the first generation that can put an end to poverty. This is misleading. Every preceding generation in modern history has had the capacity to end poverty; they just lacked the vision, compassion and political will to make it happen.

We must not repeat the missteps of the last 15 years. This time we must ensure we leave no one behind. The theme for the commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty this year— “Building a sustainable future: Coming together to end poverty and discrimination” — reminds us how important it is to act together to eradicate extreme poverty and discrimination everywhere in order to build a sustainable future. People living in poverty know from first-­hand experience that poverty and discrimination are closely intertwined.

They have seen how discrimination affects people living in poverty by breeding an environment of inequality that limits access to their fundamental rights, basic needs and opportunities for economic and social advancement. They have experienced how such discrimination can both cause poverty and be a hurdle in overcoming poverty. We have seen how, even in countries where there was significant progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, discrimination and inequalities have grown.

People living in poverty must be full and equal partners in building a just and sustainable future. Their full participation, particularly in the decisions that affect their lives and communities, must be at the centre of policies and strategies to build a sustainable future. Too often there has been token participation of people living in poverty and as a result their valuable knowledge and experience have been overlooked or discounted.

We must work together to guarantee that our planet can meet the needs of everyone – not only those of a privileged few – for this and future generations.

Donald Lee, President, International Committee for October 17