Standard of Living – Poverty Reduction Goal of Truly International Development

Standard of livingpoverty reduction goal of truly international development

Should work remain reducing poverty? Maybe it’s time to see a fair standard of living for all as the objective of a development project that is firmly rooted in human rights. So says Gunnel Axelsson Nycander and Gunilla Palm at the Swedish Church International Work. ”Ingen fattigdom” heter det första globala hållbarhetsmålet i Agenda 2030. Det är ett ambitiöst och viktigt mål, då fattigdom undergräver, och i värsta fall kränker mänskliga rättigheter. Fattigdom står dessutom i vägen för förverkligandet av alla de andra hållbarhetsmålen. Men är SDG 1 ett välformulerat mål?

“Absolute” or “extreme” poverty-it is on the basis of these categories which recipients are selected in many aid efforts and programmes for social security. Sometimes it is also spoken of “the poorest of the poor“. But many organizations are now careful not to talk about the “poor people“. There are good reasons for this. Poverty is not a characteristic, and thus not a label that can be put on people. Poverty is a situation you can be in, a situation which often change during the different phases of life.

The goal of Swedish aid today is to create conditions for better living conditions for people living in poverty and oppression. To change the assistance is directed to people who are in certain situations has been an important step forward in the development process. Now is the time to discuss the next step in the vision of development and human rights.

Poverty as a concept is of course important to measure and monitor social and economic development. But is “poverty” and “poverty” as relevant concepts when it comes to work for a just social change and the realization of human rights? What happens if we would turn on the idea and instead ask the question: What is enough?

In development cooperation, it is common to not only talk about economic poverty but instead is deleted from a multidimensional perspective, which, for example, UNDP and the Page does. Where road access to such things as education, political influence, equality, security, and a good environment into the categorization of who is poor.

Swedish Church partner Studies in Poverty and Inequality in South Africa Institute (SPII) is also from the many different dimensions of people’s lives. But they are also an issue. Instead of defining poverty they choose to talk about what is a fair standard of living for all (“a decent standard of living“) and how society must change to get there.

Today, 20 November launches SPII Decent Standard of Living Index tool to based on a number of criteria and socio-economic variables to assess whether people in South Africa have a reasonable standard of living. The tool is based on the fact that people themselves must be involved in defining what constitutes a fair standard of living for them. The index shows that 80 percent of the population in South Africa do not have a reasonable standard of living and thus deprived of the possibility to exercise their medborgliga and human rights.

SPII is based on article 11 of the International Covenant on economic, social and cultural rights: “… the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family.” For a development cooperation that is based on human rights, this is a logical starting point.

To move the focus from it to be combated to what we actually want to achieve can also provide new perspectives on what changes need to be implemented, and encourage us to set new issues. How are we building societies that are sustainable and enable a fair standard of living for all?