Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has called for solidarity with all people living in poverty. He issued the appeal in a video message to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, observed annually on 17 October.
He highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic represents “a double crisis” for the world’s poorest people.
“First, they have the highest risk of exposure to the virus, and least access to quality healthcare”, said Guterres.
“Second, recent estimates show the pandemic could push up to 115 million people into poverty this year – the first increase in decades. Women are at greatest risk because they are more likely to lose their jobs, and less likely to have social protection.”
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was established by a UN General Assembly resolution adopted in December 1992.
The theme this year is ‘Acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all’.
According to the UN, he growing recognition of the multi-dimensionality of poverty means that these two issues are inseparably intertwined, and that social justice cannot be fully realized without aggressively rectifying environmental injustices at the same time. Whereas progress has been made in addressing income poverty, there has been less success in addressing the other important dimensions of poverty, including the rapidly growing impact of the environment, within a more holistic approach.
People living in extreme poverty, often through sheer necessity, are the first to act decisively within their communities in response to poverty, climate change and environmental challenges. However, their efforts and experience often go unnoticed and unappreciated; their ability to contribute positively to solutions has been overlooked; they are not recognized as drivers of change, and their voices are not heard, especially in international bodies.