It's 15 years since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were agreed which sought to 'spare no effort' in eradicating global poverty and inequality. Over this last weekend, leaders once again come together to assess the progress made by the MDGs and to redefine their focus for the next 15 years of the fight against poverty.
Last week in New York over 160 leaders from around the world signed an agreement that will shape all of our destinies and radically change the way we tackle poverty, inequality and climate change. In more than 25 years working in international development, this is perhaps the most pivotal moment I have had the privilege to be part of. A decade and a half after we ushered in a new era with the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will come into force.
This week sees one of the most important events in Earth's recent history, so please pay attention... On Friday, world leaders will gather at the UN to ratify the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and set a path for 2030 to eradicate poverty, tackle inequality and fix climate change. Yep, it's pretty significant.
Organisations like Sightsavers have been campaigning hard over the past few years to ensure that this set of goals specifically includes people with disabilities. I'm really pleased that the UK government has played a leading role in the combined effort by championing the 'leave no one behind' agenda.
Visiting Kenya last weekend, Barack Obama stirred hearts and minds with his words on the country's potential to become a development success story. Gracing a summit on African entrepreneurship, the President rightly celebrates the efforts of the inspirational men and women working to bring prosperity to the country and the wider continent.
At the most basic and essential level, aid is and will remain a vital source of funding for many countries who cannot yet raise enough tax to pay for much-needed social services and goods including things like education and healthcare but also in the longer term helping to build the capacity to raise and more effectively use those resources. UK aid contributes to building a fairer world where more people live free from poverty, fewer die from preventable causes like malnutrition or childbirth and there are more opportunities for all.
I'm in New York this week to engage in the Post 2015 development process first hand. I know I'm not alone when I say that the process to agree a new agenda for the fight on global poverty is confusing and impenetrable. This week's focus is on financing and implementation. It's the "who's-going-to-pay?" and "how's-it-going-to-happen?" parts of the puzzle.
Feeding a growing global population of nine billion people by 2050 is one of the world's biggest challenges--especially in the context of rapid urbanisation, rising amounts of food waste and climate change. During one day of discussions senior executives from agribusiness, policymaking and the NGO community examined approaches to food and nutrition security.
More and more, we are hearing about the convergence of health and education. You can't learn if you are out of school sick. Lack of education leads to poverty and in turn the inability to access healthcare. To lead productive lives, people need both health and education: the two are cause and effect.
It may be a rebalance of the economic powers, but the planet is far from being the place of equality. Oxfam claims that "in 2010, it took 388 billionaires to equal the wealth of the bottom half of the world's population and by 2014, the figure had fallen to just 80 billionaires." If the trend continues, warns the humanitarian group, in two years the richest 1% will have more than the remaining 99%.