Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. Various social groups bear disproportionate burden of poverty.
The World Social Summit identified poverty eradication as an ethical, social, political and economic imperative of mankind and called on governments to address the root causes of poverty, provide for basic needs for all and ensure that the poor have access to productive resources, including credit, education and training. Recognizing insufficient progress in the poverty reduction, the 24th special session of the General Assembly devoted to the review of the Copenhagen commitments, decided to set up targets to reduce the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by one half by 2015. This target has been endorsed by the Millennium Summit as Millennium Development Goal 1.
Poverty eradication must be mainstreamed into the national policies and actions in accordance with the internationally agreed development goals forming part of the broad United Nations Development Agenda, forged at UN conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields. The Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017), proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 2007 aims at supporting such a broad framework for poverty eradication, emphasizing the need to strengthen the leadership role of the United Nations in promoting international cooperation for development, critical for the eradication of poverty.
A social perspective on development requires addressing poverty in all its dimensions. It promotes people-centered approach to poverty eradication advocating the empowerment of people living in poverty through their full participation in all aspects of political, economic and social life, especially in the design and implementation of policies that affect the poorest and most vulnerable groups of society. An integrated strategy towards poverty eradication necessitates implementing policies geared to more equitable distribution of wealth and income and social protection coverage.
A social perspective on poverty should contribute to the debate on the effectiveness and limitations of current poverty reduction strategies. Poverty analysis from a social perspective requires thorough examination of the impact of economic and social policies on the poor and other vulnerable social groups. Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIA) serves as a tool to assess both the economic and social impact of reforms on different social and income groups. Properly conducted PSIA contributes to national debate on policy options and helps to promote national ownership of development strategies and could contribute to the operationalization of Copenhagen’s commitments.