The man in charge of delivering these goals is Jeffrey Sachs. He argues that extreme poverty can be eradicated by 2025.
He believes that richer nations need to urgently increase the quantity and quality of aid to poorer countries for this to happen.
However, he says the responsibility lies with individuals as much as with governments and international bodies.
Is more aid the answer? Do you think it’s possible to end world poverty? Should governments and big businesses do more? Are the Millennium Goals achievable?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
The dreams of supremacy are always at the expense of other nations. A few bellicose states should divert part of their military budgets to help developing countries.
Yes, it is possible to end world poverty. We just have to ensure that we use the correct tools. The substantial increase in aid levels proposed by both Professor Sachs in his Millennium Project Report and by the Commission for Africa are important but are no panacea. The private sector, both domestic and international, has to be engaged in the process. This will ensure the improvements in infrastructure are fully utilised when complete, and provide expertise and funding in the first place.
Tim, London, UK
The causes of poverty are multi-faceted and therefore require different approaches. Even in the rich and developed countries there are poor and homeless people. The developing nations need political and economic policies that will aid their growth and lessen their dependence on outside charity.
Janet, Edmonton, Canada
Drew, Philadelphia, USAWhat is not discussed is the role the West has played in creating the conditions that people are facing in other parts of the world. Look at the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mobutu; or Indonesia and Suharto. Had The US and Belgium not supported Mobutu for all those years than maybe the destruction that all those people are facing would not exist today. Corruption and dictatorship around the world are protected by powerful interests in the US and Europe. This needs to be explored further.
Yonathan, Los Angeles, United StatesMore than half the people in developed countries haven’t seen or don’t understand what poverty is. It is events like the tsunami that bring out the gravity of the situation and throw light on the living conditions of the poor. Awareness in the developed countries could help. For instance, people could help by sponsoring a child’s education in a developing country.
If everyone only had the children they could afford to feed, clothe and educate world poverty would practically disappear within a generation.
It will never be the end until people begin to really concern about it. Most people spend more time to think about what to wear than the poverty in their own country.
Leonard, Vancouver, Canada
Brian Whitmore, Alicante, Spain
Brian Whitmore, Alicante, SpainMore aid, of course, is the answer. As of last year, the United States gave a scant $16 billion in developmental aid to the Third World. That’s pathetic. We spent many times that amount in Iraq. If the United States (and the rest of the developed world) would spend even half of what they now waste on arms on eliminating Third World poverty, the 2025 goal could be easily reached. The problem, however, will be in finding a leader who has the mettle to implement any such redirection of public money.
Sean, Nashville, USA
Everyone loves to have a pop at ‘Big Business’ and ‘Capitalism’ as things which somehow undermine efforts to help the poor and implement social policy. But the ironic truth of the matter is that most countries that have a welfare state have them mainly funded from the profits of the big companies that do best under capitalism. We can look at China as a clear example of this. Switching to a capitalist system has bought them vast benefits, and it’s time other countries that want to develop followed suit.
MK Ali, London
This has absolutely nothing to do with the richer countries giving money to the poorer countries. That is socialism on a global scale and if the Soviets taught us anything, it was that socialism isn’t economically viable. When a country puts serious effort into improvement and the West helps in a technical way, rather than financial, then there will be a solution. Look at China – they weren’t given a bunch of Western money, they just used what they had.
Daniel Boggan, Birmingham, AL, USA
AR, LondonNo “rich” country got rich by receiving handouts from another country, yet the idea that the solution to the problem of poverty lies in rich nations transferring their wealth to poorer nations seems to be an article of faith in many of the comments. World poverty will only be eliminated when poor nations follow in the steps of countries like India, China, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.
Sam, Sterling, MA
If the developed nations learnt to stop wasting all that food there would be enough for all of us.
Akku Chowdhury, Dhaka, Bangladesh
For anyone to suggest that poverty can be eradicated in a few years is crass. The divisions within countries and societies make the task virtually impossible. Each country has to begin somewhere to decide how its people can exist on what is readily available in terms of natural and mineral resources. But dealing with poverty in each individual country demands political and human will.
Kenneth Armitage, Ipswich, Suffolk
Richard Read, London
Richard Read, LondonAll we need to do is keep breeding and abusing our planet for a while longer and nature will solve the problem for us. This world cannot support its existing population and also provide a satisfactory level of living standards.
I believe that investment in health and education is the key to eliminating poverty. Unless we do something about this, thirty years from now, we will still be talking about the same problem.
Endalamaw, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The issue is the “gap” between the poor and the rich. Progress of the rich is all very well, but humanity towards the poor has to be a part of the resulting riches. This is the challenge of the world’s leaders.
Antony Watts, Kemer, Turkey
Mark Emanuelson, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
Mark Emanuelson, Buckinghamshire, United KingdomProfessor Sachs’ belief that extreme poverty can be eradicated by 2025 does raise hopes among those crushed by poverty and every right thinking person in the rest of the globe. But such eradication can only occur if the Western developed states loosen their purse strings. They did not do so during previous development decades, with notable exceptions, why should they do so now?
Ronald Austin, Georgetown, GuyanaPopulation is the issue. The poorest of nations continue to grow at a rate that cannot be sustained based on their resources. Donations from richer countries will do nothing unless those donations go towards investments to help these countries become self-sustaining. It’s amazing that we can look at animals in the wild and make the determination that over-population of certain species in certain areas are the cause of imbalance and yet we will not look at the human race in the same light.
Jeff, Tucson, AZ, USA
Yes, we will eliminate poverty when we rid the world of war, disease, and environmentally and politically-induced famine, and also halt the disproportionate consumption of goods by industrial nations. In other words, when hell freezes over.
Gregory Powers, Kansas, USA
It occurs to me that completely eradicating poverty is not going to happen. One poster made the comment that Capitalism needs it to survive, I find it hard to argue with this. So instead of distributing the wealth, lets distribute the poverty, so that every nation has the same percentage of poor to rich!
Gabe Gumbs, NY, USA
John F, Toronto, Canada
John F, Toronto, CanadaNo, it will not end unless debts are cancelled and free education is provided for all. Solid education is the main tool to eradicate corruption and dictatorship. It is unbelievable that rich nations fail to see heavy financial support for education in the Third World as a solution to illegal migration and terrorism.
Allen Aramide, PolandThere will always be poverty as long as humans maintain one important trait, greed! All governments and all peoples of the world thrive on competition and the need to acquire. In the past, countries dabbled in Communism but they failed because they still had greed and a need for class separation. There is no Utopia, just dreams. All we can do is try to make our own homes better places, the governments won’t do it!!!
No, we cannot end world poverty. Human nature won’t allow it because, as harsh as this sounds, as long as there are winners there must be losers. It’s almost a form of Darwinian law when you think about it. I don’t believe that can be changed.
Dan Braverman, Minnesota USA
World poverty will never end until greed is eradicated first!
Daniel, Kent, UK
Robin, Herts, UK
Robin, Herts, UKYes, poverty can be eradicated. If only impoverished people can say no to bad governance and money politics.
Jaiyesimi Oludotun Olusegun, Ikeja, NigeriaPoverty can be eradicated but it required mutual effort. Aid is not the only solution. Proper and transparent utilisation of aid is mandatory. If Western governments and multinationals are expected to assist the African countries in eradicating poverty, then African governments should also shun corruption and be more transparent in their functions. The local public of African countries should reject and defunct the corrupt governments which govern them.
Murad Ali, London, United Kingdom
Agriculture, I think, will bring poverty levels down. We need worldwide serious programmes. Children don’t even think about it, because we want them to achieve in maths, physics and IT subjects to have the right job in the future. Again we humans, poor and rich are the problem.
Nada, New Zealand
Corrupt dictatorships must give way to democratic governments; people must recognize their individual responsibilities in making democratic governments functional.
Mark, Arizona, USA
Nicholas, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA
Nicholas, Saratoga Springs, NY, USAPoverty will never end as long as there are politicians and professional charity workers to make their livings from it.
Alex Swanson, Milton Keynes
There is a big poverty gap in my country. I don’t think it’s the authorities’ responsibility. Everyone in this country should have the duty to improve the poverty gap, especially poor people themselves.
Wenchi, Taichung, Taiwan
I totally disagree with Jeffrey Sachs. Although I agree that it is possible to end world poverty, I am absolutely sure that the rich countries will not let this happen because of their proper interest in keeping the poor countries the way they are right now.
Valentin Rimdjonok, Ottawa, Canada
Poverty cannot be eradicated. I just don’t think it’s possible. Its true that some of us have more than we need, and that if everything was shared equally, then everyone would be OK. But its never going to work that way. There will always be poverty in some way. But just because it will never be completely eradicated, that doesn’t mean we should give up. The main thing is to make a difference, even if we can’t change everything.
The third world countries are the worst hit by poverty; here, we mean that they don’t have the basic amenities of food, clothing, and shelter. I think the African continent and countries like India will need another 50 years to do away with poverty. Foreign aid is definitely not the solution, because here corruption is rampant, and has become part and parcel of daily life. I think education can solve some of the problems; literacy can play a pivotal role in changing the overall scenario of underdeveloped countries.
Nawal Thorat, Aurangabad, India
Every human being has the potential to create wealth and improve his well being. What the developing world and especially Africa needs is proactive intervention to create an enabling environment for the creation of wealth. Africa needs to change its perception that it will develop on handouts from the developed nations to a mind set of aggressively enabling its citizens to develop in entrepreneurship. There are far too many roadblocks to self development in Africa. This is the cause of most of the poverty.
Kimani Ndungu, Lusaka, Zambia
Sally, Brooklyn USA
Sally, Brooklyn USAIt took us hundreds of years, and a great deal of bloodshed to get from where they are now to where we are now. Is it realistic to expect such change in a couple of generations?
Malcolm McMahon, York
Top scientists have reported that if we continue as we are, or develop any further, we will run out of natural resources within sixty years. World poverty will never end.
Jason Harris, Dallas, TX
Jason Harris, Dallas, TXWorld poverty can only be properly addressed when political correctness is removed from the argument. There are two main things that keep the third world where it is – Western subsidies and thuggish third world so-called governments. It is well past time for the West to end subsidies and bring these ‘governments’ down en masse. If the UN can’t or won’t do it – then a confederation of democratic Western countries should. The problems of decent people in the third world problems cannot be solved by comfortable westerners walking on eggshells.
Derek S, UKThe first step would be for undeveloped nations to overcome some of their own social obstacles, including ethnic violence, civil war, corruption, overpopulation, AIDS, etc. Human nature and cultural beliefs, whether it be in developed or undeveloped nations, is difficult to overcome. It should start through a reduction of agricultural subsidies in developed nations, however until there is some indication of change I won’t rely upon impoverished peoples to put food on my table.
Rob G., Kansas City, USA
Jen, Astoria, NY
Jen, Astoria, NYYes, but the focus must be on good governance and social responsibility. In many instances capitalism has generated adequate resources to eradicate extreme poverty, but is continually undermined by corruption, self interests and nepotism. It is an unfortunate truth that the poorer the country, the more difficult it is to put aside these unwanted by-products of economic and social growth.
James, Maputo, MozambiqueIf most of the poor are ‘non-cash crop’ farmers how will “opening up markets” help? I (along with most other westerners) don’t really need cassava or millet much.
I think it’s important that the Developing world understands that no permanent solution will be found to their problems by someone else. If the global trade system is failing you then change to another system. Work at your own pace and develop slowly but steadily. People only ever deal equally with equals.
Iain Howe, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Rich countries will have to open up their markets to exports from poor countries, especially in the agricultural and labour-intensive manufacturing sectors. I think this is the only sustainable way to eradicate poverty. Most of the poor in the world are non-cash crop farmers and have minimum education.
Daniel, Boston, USA
Poverty can be eradicated – no nation in this world is poor, it’s just that the money and the resources in the country is not distributed evenly! Take India, for instance. We have natural resources, manpower and cultivable land – everything that will help a country prosper. But we also have a certain breed of species called the politicians, who see to it that the people below the poverty line stay that way! Jeffrey Sachs’ endeavour is indeed laudable, but will the individuals and governments share his thoughts and shoulder the responsibility?
Kavitha Viswanath, Palakkad, India
Jason Carter, Melbourne, Australia
Jason Carter, Melbourne, AustraliaEradicating poverty under the current capitalist economy is a pipe dream. Poverty was created and has actually been enhanced by this form of economic ideology which encourages competition for world resources, the richer you are the powerful hence being in a position to influence or dictate to the poor. Poverty was therefore created as a political whip to be used for intimidating those who do not have to accept whatever proposals from the rich. So poverty will continue to exist until the end of time, the rich will continue getting richer and the poor more poor.
Walter, Dili, Timor LesteUnfortunately, some tend to characterize poverty as having less than your neighbour. This can never be ended, nor should it – it is the way of the world in which we all have different abilities, talents and energy. Objective poverty, however, can be eliminated. The path to doing so is very clear – freeing the world’s economy of inefficient market distortions caused by such factors as corruption, regulation, subsidies, tariffs, and various other inhibitors. The problem is convincing those that have a stake in the current system (the corrupt, the bureaucrats, the first world farmers, groups that owe their very identity to certain philosophies (e.g. anti-globalization), etc.) that they need to cease their activities for the good of all.
Jeff, Charlotte, NC USA
Yes if the rich nations are prepared to put people and the environment before profit and big business
Darren, Basingstoke, UK
I have come to the conclusion that too many people are too selfish for poverty to be eradicated. Even in the richest nation on earth, the US, some people still live in abject poverty.
Tim Bolshaw, Bangkok, Thailand
Poverty will never be fully eradicated, but it can certainly be limited and that is something all governments should be working seriously to achieve.
Sam, Arlington, US
J Jensehaugen, Oslo, Norway
J Jensehaugen, Oslo, NorwayYes, word poverty can be a thing of the past if world leaders put their money to it.
Aman Sinha, Bethlehem, PA, USAI’m encouraged to see the fair trade movement picking up steam in the US. Endless charity, while well-intentioned, does not have the impact that free and fair trade have on developing nations. It’s time to send things like tariffs, quotas, and subsidies to the dustbin of history and give developing nations a fighting chance.
Roger, Illinois, USA
Sally-Ann Smith, Leicester, Leics.
Sally-Ann Smith, Leicester, Leics.No, there will never be an end to world poverty. The “haves” and the “have nots” are a function of the way the world economy works. The least we can hope for is to aid these people to eliminate their hunger.
Charles, Montreal, CanadaWorld poverty will be eradicated as soon as greed is eliminated. Can that happen? No.
Franc, Philadelphia, PA USA
Poverty will never be eradicated, or even reduced, until the world’s population stops growing – especially in countries in the “developing” world.
Elizabeth van Rijssen, Cape Town, South Africa
I think extreme poverty can be eradicated but it will take organisations like the UN stepping in and resolving political conflicts to make it happen. Most starvation and poverty in the world is in the nations which do not make there citizens a priority. This mentality of corrupt leaders could easily be put in check by a strong UN which is willing to go the extra mile to protect human life.
Dwayne Chastain, West Jefferson, Ohio
Debessay Gabriel, USA
Debessay Gabriel, Alexandria, USAExtreme poverty that leads to mass starvation can and must be eliminated. Some previous people have said that poverty has to exist, but there simply is no good economic reasoning behind that degree of suffering. In fact, wouldn’t corporations prefer it if these people had the capital to create new markets and consume more?
Vincent Nguyen, Vancouver, CanadaNo, no and no. Corruption and tribal hatred is the staple diet of the developing world. Address these issues first and then the developed world can help. A doctor who sells his patients medicine won’t cure the illness.
RC Robjohn, UK
World hunger can be eradicated if governments in poorer countries sort out their distribution problems. Many of them receive aid or help from nations that are better off but unfortunately this is not passed down the line to the needier sections of the population. Having said that, richer nations tend to be wasteful and spend far too much of their GDP on areas such as defence.
Etienne Hoffland, Chafford Hundred, Essex
Agnes Clarke, The Netherlands
Agnes Clarke, The NetherlandsPerhaps if people realised how important the farming industry was and more help was given to them to produce food then the problem would be greatly improved
Margaret Lawrence, Newport, South WalesAbsolute poverty, meaning people not being able to afford the essentials of living, can be ended, but relative poverty (some being poor as compared to others) will always exist. There will always be rich and poor in the world, but it is feasible to keep a minimum level of living standards such that no one should be forced to starve.
Jonathan Ring, Coventry, UK
If everyone contributes a little, it will be possible to eradicate poverty provided that there’s no corruption or any illegal activities in between the process. It is imperative that every child, regardless of being poverty-stricken or not should have basic education. By doing so, the vicious cycle could be broken in one way or another.
Kishen Raj, Singapore
Kevin, CA, USA
Kevin, CA, USAYes, it is possible if rich country governments give generously, and recipient countries spend the money well, and poor country governments pursue good policies. It’s possible, but it’s certainly not likely. As long as there are people like Mugabe in power, there will still be poverty, but where possible, it’s well worth investing as much as possible to reduce poverty as far as possible. I hope Jeff Sachs is right, and I hope the world steps up the challenge he has laid out. Even if poverty is not eradicated, significant reduction is very desirable.
David, Bristol, UKThere is currently enough food grown in the world to adequately feed everyone. Unfortunately, the vast majority of corn grown in nations like the US goes to feeding our cattle, which is then distributed unevenly to richer people. Poverty could greatly be alleviated if we could work to reduce human population and reduce meat consumption/feed the cows grass so that more land could be devoted to crops for poorer nations.
Bryan Short, Bemidji, USA
Yes, considering how much is wasted on a daily basis on weapons alone. I mean look at the huge debt America is in from weapon expenditure. That will not really affect them for about 10 years or so. But of course that is just an idealised idea. Humanity will have to grow quite a bit before it ever thinks that far ahead.
Robb Dunphy, Dublin, Ireland
Pancha Chandra, Belgium
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, BelgiumAs long as the world is run for profit, by the people that are in power now, poverty will not disappear, it will only increase. The only way to eradicate poverty is to eradicate the inequalities in the world. Change societies globally to cherish human life, instead of money.
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UKOnly if Western countries (such as the US) reduce military spending and start helping those less fortunate than us.
Yes, world poverty can be brought to an end if we provide the platform. The first step is that governments of nation should stop the increase of basic essential goods especially in third world counties, they should be compel to reduce affordability according to at least a moderate rate. Providing employment to keep every hand busy and removing restrains through unnecessary tax will tackle poverty. The United Nations should enter into partnership with individuals and governments of nations with conditions, these conditions should be affordability of the concern – whatever area of investment they enter into, those affected by poverty should be able to afford it.
Abba Gabriel, Otukpa, Nigeria
Sarah Wright, USA
Sarah Wright, Woodland, California, USAWorld poverty can only be eradicated by strong governments. China is a text book case. Only 30 years ago they had massive famines and poverty. Due to birth control (two kids per family), industrialisation and strict government the country now is under control. If the same thing was applied to India, Africa and South America you would solve this issue. The world’s population has doubled since 1960 and what with global warming we can expect disasters on an unprecedented scale. Hurricanes, flooding, climate change. But remember rule number one, never do anything until it’s too late.
David Perry, UKWorld poverty will not be ended through the efforts of governments and big businesses. Money and free food will not end poverty. Individuals must take more responsibility for themselves and their environment. It is imperative that people be educated sufficiently to help themselves. Without self respect, there will always be poverty.
Linda McCullough, Texas, USA
We could live in a money free world, we have the intelligence, just not the will power. You all agree you can’t take money with you, and everything on this planet is owned by the creator, therefore we the gardeners of the planet just pass through. The oil, the gold, whatever was put here by the supreme power. We spent billions on sightseeing rocks in the sky, when we can’t spend a pound on another human life, we are a sad lot.