UNGA 77 – Second Committee
Agenda item 22: Eradication of poverty and other development issues
Agenda item 24: Agriculture development, food security and nutrition
12 October 2022
Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and the overarching goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Indeed, the major objective of sustainable development is the satisfaction of human needs and aspirations for present and future generations.  This will not be achieved until the millions of people who continue to lack access to economic and non-economic resources and opportunities will be able to satisfy their needs for survival and well-being.
With only eight years left to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda and five years before the conclusion of the Third UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, the international community must get back on track and redouble its efforts to address the alarmingly high rates of poverty, especially in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s extreme poverty rate increased from 8.3 per cent in 2019 to 9.2 per cent in 2020. This seemingly small fluctuation in data corresponds to an enormous change, that is an additional 77 million people live on less than $1.90 a day.
These numbers are even higher when poverty is measured through comprehensive criteria that look beyond income and monetary indicators. Concrete experience and data tell us that high levels of economic growth and widespread poverty can coexist, and that per capita income growth remains insufficient to achieve sustainable poverty eradication.
As Pope Francis expresses in a very eloquent way, “the claim that the modern world has reduced poverty is made by measuring poverty with criteria from the past that do not correspond to present-day realities. In other times, for example, lack of access to electric energy was not considered a sign of poverty, nor was it a source of hardship. Poverty must always be understood and gauged in the context of the actual opportunities available in each concrete historical period.” Therefore, our efforts to eradicate poverty should address the complex reality of poverty, which results from interconnected factors and manifests itself in all dimensions of human life, including the educational, social, cultural, and spiritual dimensions. This includes taking into consideration the integral development of the human person as a whole.
In this regard, education is an effective antidote to poverty. Ensuring inclusive and equitable access to quality education is essential to provide children, women, and men not only with the skills that will enable them to contribute to society and access the workforce, but also with the spiritual goods that help them grow and flourish as persons.
Equally important in the fight against poverty is the development and implementation of policies that contribute to job creation and support decent work for all. Ensuring that people can have access to sustainable livelihoods and therefore can support themselves and their families is essential to achieve long-term and durable progress in the fight against poverty.
Adequate social protection systems and policies, in particular maternity and family benefits, have also proven to be highly effective in reducing poverty worldwide and prevent people who already are in situations of economic vulnerability from falling in the trap of poverty.
Poverty remains the principal cause of hunger and malnutrition worldwide. In turn, hunger and malnutrition spawn even greater poverty, as the health impacts associated with inadequate quantity and quality of food affect peoples’ ability to learn and work. This is particularly detrimental for children and women, especially during critical phases of life such as childhood, pregnancy, and lactation. In this regard, food programs should give special attention to the nutritional needs of pregnant and nursing women and of children, especially during the first thousand days.
The conflict in Ukraine, the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, surging global food prices, inflation, and the disruption of food supply chains are further reducing food affordability and real incomes across many countries, especially in low-income, food import-dependent countries. Not only short-term actions, but also medium- and long-term measures should be taken simultaneously, with a focus on supporting countries to diversify their sources of food imports so that they can become more resilient to food shocks.
To address the paradoxical reality that while enough food is produced to feed everyone, starvation remains the daily reality, we must put a stop to food being discarded, wasted, and consumed in excess. In other words, we need to do more than produce more food. A new mindset is needed. We need to design policies that have at their center the human person and ensure equitable access to those essential goods, resources and opportunities that are indispensable for sustaining life and promoting the integral development and well-being of every person. Poverty will be eradicated and food security achieved only when social structures fully respond to the needs of justice and respect for the inherent dignity of every person.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
 Cf. A/42/427, Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987.
 Cf. A/77/176, Report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018–2027); cf. also World Bank, Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2022: Correcting Course, World Bank Group, 2022.
 Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti, n 21