Gearing up for the 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, OxFam released a study that finds the richest 1% own nearly half the world’s wealth. Ever since the mortgage-financial crisis, the public’s attention has focused on the glaring economic inequality both within the United States and around the globe. For this reason, studies revealing said economic disparity comes across as unsurprising, and without the garnered interest it has had in the past. Except when reports come out that the 85 richest people anywhere are as wealthy as the poorest half of the world, the thought raises our eyebrows and has us wondering what us humans are doing to better the lives of the world’ls overall population.
Oxfam International is a non-profit organization with the explicit goal to change the world with the power of people to fight against poverty, and the injustices that cause poverty. One of the main themes of this year’s WEF is economic inequality, which will highlight some of the talking points from this study as some of the world’s most distinguished businessmen, entrepreneurs, celebrities, government officials and scholars convene in Davos this week.
Of course, the WEF is known almost as much for the noticeable faces that are absent as it is for the members that make appearances, including Warren E. Buffett, Timothy Cook (Apple), and the founders of Google Larry Paige and Sergey Brin. Such is the nature of these events, which offer both the opportunity to stir change through discussion, or at the least function predominantly as a public relations/networking event. However you look at it, the WEF brings a platform that heightens awareness and promotes discussion of important subjects like economic inequality to a global audience in an effort to help better our world. It’s worth checking out, and you can many an informed discussion when you browse through the topics.
For now though, check out Oxfam’s full report here (PDF).
And this helpful infographic via USA Today
Images via Oxfam
When you look at the Taj Mahal in India, what do you think about? You will most likely picture grandeur, masterful masonry and the powerful aura that comes with viewing one of Seven Wonders of the World. What is perhaps more striking then, is the discrepancy between the mystique of the Taj Mahal and the dilapidated buildings across the marsh, easily viewable from the monument. The divide is an intriguing microcosm of India, where it is not uncommon to see beautiful temples adjacent to downtrodden shacks and underdeveloped housing. The divide is stark, the inequality is evident and found in developing countries worldwide. It represents borders of poverty.
As humans, we create borders by association, carrying with them many lines of distinction. Some of these lines are defined by soveriengty, economy, culture and policy. In this article by Nick Galasso from OxFam America, he relates these borders of poverty to the differences between poverty reduction and economic growth. With the effects of globalization and free trade agreements, he finds that poverty is reduced along some areas and economic gains are reflected. However, another side effect is the development of exclusive classes made up of a new upper class with high income earners, while leaving the near poor potentially falling below the poverty threshold again, leaving borders of poverty and wealth in plain sight like this picture of Sao Paulo (Paradise City), Brazil.
It is difficult to pinpoint the precise issues that create such dichotomies, but it is enough to recognize that they do exist. It is important to register the significance of these borders that reflect the changes occurring in our globalizing world, both positive and negative. Borders like these are far more telling than simply rich and poor, whether it is the U.S.-Mexican border or the Berlin Wall. Border of poverty found in these pictures of the Taj Mahal and Paradise City remind us that while the fight to reduce poverty has had some success, there is plenty of ground yet to cover. With continued effort, these borders will change and reduce, hopefully like poverty itself.
Reposted from The Toughington Post
The Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) were laid out by global leaders 13 years ago with the mindset to halve extreme poverty by 2015. Due to a strong commitment from millions of world citizens and tremendous global effort, these goals are considered within reach. While the official countdown is on until the 2015 deadline, many have started to wonder what will come next once the 2015 deadline is reached. What will be the Millenium Development Goals post-2015?
Early chatter has talk about maintaining current goals and infusing new MDGs with new deadlines. As well marketed and global an effort the MDGs have become, they have been received and effective in some regions better than others. Some estimate that no more than eight percent of the world is fully aware of the MDGs, a meager figure in the context of our global population. Even when I ask people around me, most are only vaguely aware of the MDGs at all. It is a message that needs to be reached to a greater number of people, something that can be better accomplished through early education, involvement with government agencies, NGOs and the private sector.
Emphasizing broader familiarity with the MDGs can lead to a stronger platform to expand on the goals and the world’s needs. The MDGs as a platform for further change is how some individuals, such as Dr. Raphael Ogar Oko, who wrote that the MDGs for 2015 are just the beginning. He feels all of the MDGs can be expanded in time, including all levels of education, not just early childhood, encompassing more diseases, and paternal health as well as maternal health. He lays out more or less every conflicting issue you can think of, whether it is reducing terrorism, inter-religious harmony, greater global government participation, even a revamped United Nations. While it may seem like too much, the point is that these Millenium Development Goals should be embedded in our thinking, even if they take longer to achieve. Hence the “millenium” in MDGs.
The bottom line is the more people aware of MDGs, the more ideas and contributions to their development can be made. No one is saying no to world peace or conflict resolution. However, the world is a big place with billions of people, and it is going to take an increased global effort on a localized level to reach people in the most effective way possible. That is what organizations such as World We Want intend to do by reaching out to people the world over to understand what priorities are on a cultural level to help build a collective vision for future development goals. The march toward the deadline is on, but it is never too early to start thinking about the Millenium Development Goals post-2015.