Global Learning Programme Wales

Development context

The current development context: positive change

Over recent decades there has been the fastest reduction in poverty in human history.

This unprecedented progress has been a combination of many factors including:

As a result of this progress:

The development challenge: extreme poverty

However, alongside these very positive changes there remain significant challenges and extreme poverty remains throughout much of the developing world. Approximately 1.4 billion people still live in poverty and they account for the use of just over 1 per cent of the world’s resources. Whilst absolute poverty has reduced, there has been growing inequality between rich and poor in many countries. In addition, there are many significant challenges such as environmental sustainability, the impact of climate change, demographic change, conflict and civil war, and the global economic situation. These influence the actions to reduce poverty.

How is the international community responding?

Many political leaders now believe it will be possible to eradicate extreme poverty within our lifetimes.

‘...the post-2015 agenda is our chance to usher in a new era in international development that can lead to a world of prosperity, peace, sustainability, equity and dignity for all.’ Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, 31 August 2013 

‘The United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades.’ - Barack Obama, the President of the USA, 12 February 2013

‘We have a unique opportunity to be the generation that eradicates absolute poverty...’ David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the UK, 2 November 2012

‘Today, Africa and indeed the entire world stand at major crossroads in our drive to eradicate poverty and build sustained prosperity for all peoples. We can continue with business as usual and get the same results, which keeps hundreds of millions of people in poverty and deprivation; or we could begin to transform economies in order to achieve sustainable development.’ - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, 2 June 2013

‘For the first time in human history, society has the capacity, the knowledge and the resources to eradicate poverty.’ - Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa, August 2002

The international community is currently reviewing how the Millennium Development Goals help to reduce extreme poverty. In 2013, 26 representatives of governments, the private sector, academia and civil society, met to advise the United Nation’s Secretary General on a new agenda for development to coordinate international action from 2015 onwards. 

Their report ‘A New Global Partnership: eradicate poverty and transform economies through sustainable development’ argues that:

The report also outlines a potential programme of action, with identified goals, which by 2030 could achieve the following:


Millennium Development Goals, United Nations 

A New Global Partnership: eradicate poverty and transform economic through sustainable development, United Nations

Poverty: Not always with us’, The Economist.

Development context

Acknowledgements: This text is adapted from work by RGS-IBG for the Global Learning Programme.