Ending Poverty by 2030

By Dan Petrie, Habitat for Humanity International’s associate director of congressional relations

End poverty by 2030.

President Obama thinks it’s possible and so does a panel of 27 experts from around the world grappling with how to transform the lives of billions.

With the Millennium Development Goals expiring in 2015, the United Nations is developing a new set of global targets to create a healthier and more prosperous planet. On May 31, an advisory group to the U.N. Secretary-General called the High Level Panel released its recommendations, including a set of illustrative goals and targets for the next Millenium Development Goals. While this report is just one input for the U.N’s consideration, the panel’s suggestions will undoubtedly shape the creation of the next Millenium Development Goals.

The report highlights several critical issues for Habitat: building resilience to natural disasters, equal rights for women to inherit property, universal access to safe drinking water, improvement in energy-efficient buildings and adding decent jobs and livelihoods.

Most significantly, a specific target is aimed at increasing the percentage of “women and men, communities and small businesses with secure rights to land, property and other assets.” Secure tenure, or freedom from the fear of eviction, is a foundation for adequate housing and has been linked to broader economic growth.

Notably absent from the recommendations, though, was a focus on housing and the growth of slums. With the number of slum dwellers expected to double to 2 billion, it’s odd that housing was hardly mentioned. Yet, the panel says, “cities are where the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost.” It’s hard to see how these issues can be separated.

The process that results in the next Millenium Development Goals will likely become more insular now as debate shifts to inside the U.N. If the goals are truly universal, strong engagement from stakeholders will be essential to build on the High Level Panel report and ensure housing is included in the final product in 2015.

For more information on the Millenium Development Goals, check out Jonathan Reckford’s statement and Habitat’s position paper. View an infographic. Learn more about Habitat’s broader advocacy efforts.