Published 18/10/17   4:09 pm

What could our world leaders really be doing to end poverty?  

 

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The theme for this year’s commemoration is centred on the value of dignity, echoed in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which sets poverty eradication as the overarching objective.

 

Today, in 2017, over 800 million people around the world are living in extreme poverty[1]. Whilst many more are threatened by alarmingly high rates of unemployment, insecurity, conflict and the effects of climate change. Those living in poverty have a daily struggle to overcome stigma as well as fighting to gain access to food, water, education and healthcare. For the eradication of poverty to become a reality and for the lives of billions to be improved, there needs to be small, responsible and realistic policy changes. Policies that could make a BIG difference, such as a European Financial Transaction Tax (EU FTT) – a small tax on banks that would generate billions to help those who need it most.

 

Last year 10 European countries including France, Germany, Italy and Spain agreed to the core elements of the EU FTT, including what will be taxed and how the tax will be collected. However, a number of further issues still need to be negotiated for a strong FTT deal that will make a real impact in the fight against poverty and climate change.

 

But the talks have been slowed down. Negotiating governments are losing their nerve to make their financial sector pay their fair share. Despite technical issues being largely resolved, political will is now needed to push this idea over the finishing line. By delaying this decision, they have lost out on £19bn since last December.

 

If the EU FTT had been introduced on 6th December 2016 as planned, the revenue raised would have been a tangible step towards achieving the UN’s objective to eradicate poverty, and would have played a part in enabling people across the world to live with dignity.

 

Education is key to overcoming global poverty. The amount needed to send all 264 million children out of education in the developing world to school for the year of 2017 is €11.6 billion.[2] This could have been achieved within 6 and half months of the EU FTT.

 

Hunger, malnutrition and preventable diseases are perhaps some of the cruellest consequences of poverty. The amount needed to plug the annual funding gap to tackle mother and child hunger and malnutrition by 2025 is €6.5 billion, this could be funded by the EU FTT revenue with €926,240,000 left over[3]. The amount needed to provide a long lasting malaria net to all 163 million people at risk in sub-Saharan Africa is €840 million, which, again could be paid for with EU FTT revenue and still have €86,240,000 left over[4].

 

As the theme of this year’s commemoration would suggest, dignity and a life free from poverty come hand in hand. 25 years on from the first International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we have never more urgently needed this common sense policy to play a part in making a life of dignity, prosperity and freedom a reality for so many.

 

No more delays. No more excuses. The EU FTT’s time has come.

 

 

[1] http://www.un.org/en/events/povertyday/

[2] http://www.globalpartnership.org/funding/education-costs-per-child

[3] http://ebrary.ifpri.org/utils/getfile/collection/p15738coll2/id/130354/filename/130565.pdf

[4] https://www.unicef.org/media/media_20475.html

 

 

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