In the last 15 years, the world has seen the most successful anti-poverty push in history. The number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half, from 43% in 1990 to fewer than 20% today. More children are in school than ever before. And the reduction of child deaths from preventable causes has fallen by more than 30%.
We’ve come a long way in the fight to end extreme poverty.
Yet more than 1 billion people still live on less than $1.25 a day, a figure many may find hard to believe. And rightfully so. But the truth is, due to a successful concerted global effort, our world is on the path to ending extreme poverty. A feat never before achieved in human history.
At the World Bank spring meeting in 2013, finance ministers from around the world agreed to the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030. And last fall, we stood on stage at the Global Citizen Festival with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim as he challenged his fellow leaders to honor that commitment, to go beyond their current efforts, and to publicly declare their country’s support for a world without extreme poverty.
At a time when the world is as technologically advanced as it’s ever been, one in 10 children worldwide still go through life without an education. While medical revolutions are underway in the Western world, in sub-Saharan Africa, too many children never reach their 5th birthday due to diseases we know how to prevent. And while speed and convenience continue to propel the next market breakthrough, one in three people still live without access to a restroom.
Yet in these statistics lies the opportunity. At no point in history has the world been more interdependent, interconnected, and informed. But with that knowledge and connectivity comes the responsibility to change the systems we know aren’t working.
It won’t be easy – change never is. But if we work together and take action to show our leaders how ending extreme poverty isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the only thing to do, we believe we can see a world free of this injustice by 2030.
As Nelson Mandela so famously said, “Millions of people in the world’s poorest countries remain imprisoned, enslaved, and in chains. They are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free.”
Katie Holmes is an actress and Global Citizen Ambassador. Hugh Evans is the chief executive officer of The Global Poverty Project.