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This Earth Day: Making Poverty Reduction Sustainable
By Anna Wiersma
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were proposed at the Rio+20 Summit in 2012 as one way to extend the work of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) beyond 2015. The SDGs are intended to compensate for the lack of focus on climate change, biodiversity loss, and other environmental problems missing from the MDG framework. Table 3.1 shows the proposed SDG focus areas alongside the existing MDGs.
The proposed SDG framework includes both opportunities and challenges for anti-poverty efforts. With any expansion of goals comes the risk of losing clarity and ocus. Each of the MDGs has a direct link to the goal of ending poverty. The proposed SDG focus areas do not include important ways of ﬁghting poverty—ways that go beyond simply providing food—such as education, empowering women, improving child and maternal health and nutrition, and ﬁghting HIV/AIDS.
In spite of these concerns, elements of the SDG agenda could well enhance future anti-poverty efforts. Climate change affects poor people disproportionately, and feeding a rapidly rising global population will require more sustainable forms of agriculture.
Expanding the post-2015 development agenda to address the urgent problems posed by climate change and the need for sustainable food production should not come at the cost of losing the focus on key health, education, and equality issues or the overall clear anti-poverty message. Finding a balance that includes both these essential elements of the MDGs and the essentials of the SDG agenda is the challenge, particularly with numerous stakeholders already vying to shape the SDG agenda and the relationship between the SDGs and MDGs. But just as the MDGs brought global attention to the ﬁght against poverty, the SDGs could serve as a platform for the need to act on climate change.
Anna Wiersma is a senior at Valparaiso University in Indiana pursuing a degree in international economics and cultural affairs. She was a summer 2012 intern in Bread for the World’s government relations department.
This exerpt is borrowed from the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals. Visit hungerreport.org to learn more about the MDGs, sustainable development, and the post-2015 agenda.
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