SDG #1: No Poverty

One of the most entangled Sustainable Development Goals is #1, No Poverty, for whatever we would like to achieve as a society, we need to empower people to act first.

While simply marking our planet’s passage around a large burning object in space, the notion of a New Year is inevitably filled with hope for a fresh start, and the motivation to change for the better. For the first month of 2022, Goal #1 is only suiting, for No Poverty is the foundation of many other Sustainable Development Goals. In this issue of our SDGs, UCL, and Volunteering column, I shall walk you through the overarching facts of global poverty, what UCL is doing to tackle it, and how you can take part too.

UN Official Communication

SDG#1: No Poverty – The cornerstone of ‘no one should be left behind’

Between 1990 and 2015, global poverty levels have dropped from 26% to 10%. However, since, the pace of change decelerated, and pre-pandemic projections placed global poverty levels at 6% by 2030. This falls short of Goal#1, and the deepening inequality caused by the Covid-19 pandemic risks nullifying the progress we made in the fight against poverty, threatening to take poverty levels back to 18%. In 2020, for the first time in two decades, poverty levels rose globally, and 71 million people were pushed under the poverty line though unemployment, underemployment, or working poverty.

Living in extreme poverty means the inability to satisfy basic human needs, such as shelter, good health, education, access to clean water or sanitary conditions. In sub-Saharan Africa, an overwhelming majority lives under such poverty line, and extreme poverty affects 1 in 5 children worldwide. Ramifications stemming from deprivation in early years escort one through life affecting life outcomes.

As with all SDGs, incorporating SDG#1 – No Poverty into our recovery from the pandemic is crucial. Developing countries suffer not only from the pandemic, but the devastating social and economic effects in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak. Not only have people lost income, but many cannot rely on social protection to help them through the tough times yet again robbing millions of the ability to access education, healthcare, or proper nutrition.

‘Eradicating poverty is not a task of charity, it’s an act of justice’

UN Global Goals

To support Goal#1 at institutional, as well as personal levels, policy advocacy should play a large role in our fight against poverty. Then, supporting a Goal#1 charity by volunteering our time to help the needy is a significant contribution.

UCL and No Poverty

As with most SDGs, when it comes to No Poverty UCL’s world-class research leads the change in methodology and approaches. Through various reports and modelling, our researchers impact the lives of many. A recent report produced by the UCL Grand Challenge of Justice & Equality, UCL Public Policy and the Resolution Foundation took an intersectional lens at poverty in the UK and concluded that various disadvantages often interact and impact people’s lives. Structural inequality persists in the UK, and researchers call for a rethinking of policy to address complex injustice some face through institutional inequalities.

Not only locally, but globally too, UCL researchers continue to suggest solutions to factors affecting poverty abroad. In collaboration with African research teams, UCL’s Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research explore the food systems and agricultural practices in Africa to understand their contribution to poverty and hunger alleviation, but climate change too. Agriculture offers employment to many and feeds even ore, however, deforestation, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, and unsustainable practices threaten long-term development. As SDGs all interrelate, such an approach aids understanding of how to sustainably combat poverty. Therefore, the UCL team is providing vital insights into the trade-offs between agricultural expansion and environmental protection, as well as how to tackle such problems.

Support a Goal #1 Charity

The UN platform disseminating information about the Global Goals will always advise you to ‘Find a Goal #1 charity you want to support’. Below are incredible partners of UCL who work every day to eradicate poverty in our local community across London, or on a global scale. At the touch of a button, you can join them in their mission to help those most in need.

1.1 Eradicate Extreme Poverty

Oxfam is a local charity with a global reach. A well-known advocate of those left behind who do valuable work both locally, and globally to eliminate poverty. Goal #1 works to end extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day. By volunteering in your local Oxfam Charity Shop, you will help raise crucial funds for Oxfam’s emergency and development programmes that have global reach. Not only is this a great way to develop skills and meet new people, but you will enable research, and humanitarian aid to get to where it is most needed.

1.2 Reduce poverty by at least 50%

We often see education as the way out of poverty, and while the picture is more complex than that, education is indeed a powerful tool to enable those in poverty to break out and fulfil their potential. One’s future might not seem compelling from the looming reality of having to worry about day-to-day needs. By becoming a mentor with Brightside, you will be able to help a child from disadvantaged background directly. Raising confidence and aspirations so that your tutees believe they are capable of leaving poverty is the first step towards success. Choosing to become an Online Mentor is the perfect way to do your part next to university.

1.B Create pro-poor and gender-sensitive policy frameworks

As asserted many times, combatting poverty is a responsibility of all, including governments and policy. Results UK is working to end poverty through public and political will. Exercising political rights and advocating for equity to your local MP is among the most important ways to influence action against poverty at large. Results UK train campaigners to become competent policy advisers capable of influencing institutional legislation. After training, you will campaign for better and more equitable access to education, health services, and economic opportunities. Their reach extends globally, bettering access to Covid-19 vaccines in developing countries, and eradicating malnutrition. Becoming a Campaigner will get you connected on a grassroot level, educated in causes of poverty and obstacles to its elimination,  and train you to advocate for pro-poor, and gender-sensitive policies.

Written by Zsofia Bekker, Student Administrative Assistant