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Briefing for MPs on UN processes: SDG 1 and the UN definition of poverty


The 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals were designed to tackle the dual challenge of poverty eradication and  environmental preservation. Although SDG 1 (End poverty in all its forms everywhere) recognizes the various dimensions of poverty, it essentially adopts the standard of $1.90 per day.

Former UN Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Professor Philip Alston makes the case for adopting a stronger definition of poverty, saying that a yardstick of $5.5 0 per day more accurately captures the real condition of poverty, where some 3.4 billion or 46 per cent of the world’s population were poor in 2015 The UNDP’s multidimensional poverty index has the global poverty rate at about 23 per cent, more than double the 10 per cent estimate As Alston observes, these much higher poverty baselines make it virtually impossible to eradicate poverty by 2030.The narrative of the international community that poverty was steadily decreasing before the COVID-19 pandemic is not supported by the facts. The Alston report poses tremendous challenges to the United Nations, governments and parliaments alike and calls for a much deeper set of policy reforms than currently proposed.

This first briefing for parliamentarians on United Nations processes will offer an opportunity for parliamentarians to learn
more about the UN’s definition of poverty and its implications for poverty eradication by 2030.


  • Prof. Philip Alston, former UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
  • Dr. George Gray Molina, Head of Strategic Engagement and Chief Economist, UNDP
  • Ms. Barbara Adams, President, Global Policy Forum

Please note that the briefing is open to MPs and their staff only. Registration details have been sent to all parliaments through the IPU group secretaries. If you are an interested MP and you did not get the invitation, please contact the IPU Observer Office at the United Nations at


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