Hundreds of millions of people (up to an estimated 420 million) are trapped in chronic poverty around the world. Many of them are working but poor, suffering low returns to their labour and assets for reasons of economic marginality or exploitation, social discrimination or political powerlessness. The MDGs help keep poverty and human development high on the international agenda. They are evolving - excellent new targets on decent work and reproductive health are currently being added. But there is a danger that development fashion, in combination with a narrative of 'MDG failure', will lead to the Goals being largely abandoned. Supporting their evolution, and using monitoring and evaluation constructively, to motivate achievement, can help counter this. A sensible and flexible approach to targets at regional and national level is also key to progress towards the ultimate Goal of eradicating poverty. This Goal will take long-term commitment beyond the initial Target date of 2015. The current wave of global economic growth may benefit many poor people. But eradicating poverty needs more than this. The MDGs are mutually interdependent and social policy is also vital. Social protection can play a major role for chronically poor people and the MDGs, including boosting effective demand for public services. The eradication of poverty will also require political action and social change beyond the scope of MDG policies, however.
CPRC Policy Brief No. 6, Chronic Poverty Research Centre, London, UK, 6 pp.