Eliminating Extreme Poverty by 2030 Will Require a Herculean Effort

The United Nations is expected to adopt the World Bank's goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. Whether that goal is feasible depends on just how many resources one expects will be put to use in the effort.

As Linda Yueh writes over at the BBC, the UN is expected later this year to adopt the World Bank's ambitious goal of eliminating what's called "extreme poverty" by 2030. Yueh asks a very reasonable question: Is this a feasible goal? Could the lowest extremes of world poverty vanish in as little as 15 years' time? She cites some optimistic numbers related to the precipitous drop in world poverty rates over the past generation, but notes that much of this progress is centralized in East Asia, where China has made major strides in lowering the floor for its many citizens:


"In 1990, more than one-third (36%) of the world's population lived in abject poverty. That was halved to 18% in 2010."

So what would it take to reduce that 18% figure to 3% (there will always be what experts refer to as "frictional poverty")? Well, first of all, a herculean effort in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region where the number of impoverished people has incongruously risen over the past three decades:

"Even though the percentage of the African population living in extreme poverty is slightly lower than in 1981 — population growth means that the number of people has actually doubled.

They account for more than one-third of the poor in the world, despite Africa making up just 11% of the global population."

Despite the gargantuan scale, Yueh explains that the World Bank is confident it can accomplish its goals. It's just -- as mentioned -- going to take a heck of lot of work:

"The World Bank projects that it's possible to end extreme poverty by 2030. But, it would take a heroic effort. The number of people in poverty will have to decrease by 50 million each year. That is the equivalent of about a million people each week for the next 15 years."

A major cog in this machine is the achievement of political and social stability in countries that have been plagued with recent strife. Then private investment and development must be brought in to grow local economies and achieve stability. Finally, policies that encourage efficiency in matters of agriculture, education, and employment could make major differences for individual countries. 

Below, Big Think expert Julie Sunderland explains how the Gates Foundation merges the efforts of both the private and public sectors to make the world a better place:

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Keep reading Show less

Permafrost is melting 70 years earlier than expected in Arctic Canada

It's a "canary in the coalmine," said one climate scientist.


MARK RALSTON/Contributor
Surprising Science
  • A team of researchers discovered that permafrost in Northern Canada is melting at unusually fast rates.
  • This could causes dangerous and costly erosion, and it's likely speeding up climate change because thawing permafrost releases heat-trapping gasses into the atmosphere.
  • This week, Canada's House of Commons declared a national climate emergency.
Keep reading Show less

Has a black hole made of sound confirmed Hawking radiation?

One of Stephen Hawking's predictions seems to have been borne out in a man-made "black hole".

Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Surprising Science
  • Stephen Hawking predicted virtual particles splitting in two from the gravitational pull of black holes.
  • Black holes, he also said, would eventually evaporate due to the absorption of negatively charged virtual particles.
  • A scientist has built a black hole analogue based on sound instead of light.
Keep reading Show less

Watch scientists melt a satellite part to save us from space junk

Not every part of a satellite burns up in reentry. Considering the growing number of satellites in orbital space, that's a big problem.

Technology & Innovation
  • Earth's orbital space is getting more crowded by the day.
  • The more satellites and space junk we put into orbit, the greater a risk that there could be a collision.
  • Not all materials burn up during reentry; that's why scientists need to stress test satellite parts to ensure that they won't become deadly falling objects.
Keep reading Show less