TOKYO - More than 2.2 billion people are "poor or near-poor", with financial crises, natural disasters, soaring food prices and violent conflicts threatening to exacerbate the problem, a United Nations report said Thursday.
While poverty is in decline worldwide, growing inequality and structural vulnerabilities" remain a serious threat, said the report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), released in Tokyo. Nearly 1.5 billion people in 91 developing states live in poverty while another 800 million are teetering on the edge.
"Eliminating extreme poverty is not just about 'getting to zero'; it is also about staying there," said the agency's 2014 Human Development Report. Those most vulnerable to natural disasters, climate change and financial setbacks must be specifically empowered and protected. Making vulnerability reduction central in future development agendas is the only way to ensure that progress is resilient and sustainable," it added.
UNDP chief Helen Clark said this was the first time that the annual study looked at vulnerability and resilience jointly "through a human development lens".If life-cycle and structural vulnerability are addressed, and conscious efforts are made to lift resilience to crisis and disaster, than I have no doubt that many of the kind of setbacks we see today to human development can be averted in future," Clark said at an event for the report's release.
The study, entitled "Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience", called for making basic social services available to all and putting full employment at the top of the development agenda.
"Providing basic social security benefits to the world's poor would cost less than two per cent of global GDP (gross domestic product)," the report concluded.