Introduction: To understand the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal 1# No Poverty; it is worthwhile to explain what poverty is in its entirety. There are many definitions attributed to poverty owing to the different context of it usage. Let us look at some of the definitions.

United Nations: Fundamentally, poverty is the inability of having choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land of which to grows one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.

World Bank: Poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being, and comprises many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity. Poverty also encompasses low levels of health and education, poor access to clean water and sanitation, inadequate physical security, lack of voice, and insufficient capacity and opportunity to better one’s life.

Therefore, the UNESCOS SDG 1 No Poverty means a global frame work to stem the tide of poverty which undoubtedly is one of the problems that continue to stare the human family on the face.

One will be stating the obvious to say that, the UNESCO SDG 1 No Poverty is important. In my own opinion, that is why it is the number one on the ranking of the SDG’s and it cannot be downplayed as one of widespread reality affecting humanity. The increasing unemployment and social exclusion has necessitated rise in poverty which is a major threat to the survival of the larger human population across the globe thus undermine economic growth. Therefore, there is an increasing need to stem the tide of poverty among the human family across the world by fighting the scourge in line with the UNESCO’s goal designed to help address some of the challenges and situations that exacerbate poverty.

The SDG 1 No Poverty will help to address the overwhelming inequality and social exclusion that presently pervades human society. When many people have the means of livelihood and access to facilities for better living the rate of poverty will decrease. The UNESCO SDG 1 is also important because it addresses the issue of food security and sufficiency which is germane in fighting the scourge of poverty in our society because

SDG 1 No Poverty will help to reduce political and social tensions across the globe. Today there are many crises across the world that can be attributed to poverty because many youth in our society who have no means of livelihood have become willing tools in the hands of those that have thorny philosophy like terrorism, kidnapping for ransom, militancy and banditry and other social ills  ravaging African and human societies.

UNESCO SDG 1 No Poverty will help humanity to focus on those with vulnerability to disease and natural disasters across the world to help alleviate their situation and prevent future occurrences. Therefore the importance of UNESCO SDG 1 cannot be overemphasized, if millions of people across the globe do not become victims of death due to poverty now and in the future to come.

The state of poverty around the world is alarming. According to IBERDROLA(2020), at the moment there are over 700 million people or 10 % of the world population living in extreme poverty (i.e on less than US $1.90 per day), which meant they do not have enough to take care of basic needs. “This critical situation is far from getting better though it improved gradually from 36% in 1990 to 10% in 2015, however, over the years the upward trend slowed to reach 8.2% in 2019. Presently the situation is worse due to the Covid 19 pandemic which is making millions of people across the world to live in extreme poverty. The expectation is that in 2020 8.8% which meant there will be rise in poverty across the world in over 20 years (SDG Progress Report 2020).

There is also the fear of poverty rising among working population. In the past decade, the ration of workers slipping to extreme poverty had been gradually decreasing, in 2010 it was 14.3% and down to 7.1 % in 2019. In April 2020, due to Covid 19 pandemic that led to closure of businesses and work places about 81% of employees and 66% of free lancers suffered the consequences. As at February 2020, only 87 countries had protection for unemployment (IBERDROLA).

The distribution of poverty across the world is 84% out of which 51% is found in the Sub-Saharan Africa and 33 in South Asia. The 10 countries with highest percentage of poverty are found in Africa, these are Mozambique, Rwanda, Zambia, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, South-Sudan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Central African Republic. The inhabitants of these countries survived on less than $1.90/day for every 100 residents.

Source: UNCCR, United Nations, Intermon Oxfam, UNICEF and World Food Programme

Recent report for global poverty indicated that 9.2% of the world, or 689 million people, live in extreme poverty on $1.90 or less a day, according to World Bank. In the United States, 11.8% of the population or 38.1 million people live in poverty-with an income of less than $33.26 per day-according to 2018 census. These numbers are calculated based on income and a person’s ability to meet the basic needs. However, when looking beyond income to people experiencing deprivation in health, education and living standards, 1.3 billion people in 107 developing countries are multi-dimensionally poor, according to a report by UNDP, (World Vision).

The changes that need to happen to achieve the SDG 1 No Poverty includes To eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere in the world, to implement appropriate social protection systems and measures, to ensure that all men and women have equal rights to economic resources and basic services, develop the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related, economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters, to ensure significant mobilization of resources through enhanced development cooperation and to create sound policy frameworks to support investment in poverty eradication actions (SDG 1 Targets: No Poverty).

UNICEF (2020) to accelerate progress towards the SDGs for every child, 3As approaches are: Raising awareness, taking action and holding decision makers accountable. 1. Awareness: With the right tools and information, children and young people can play critical roles in implementing and monitoring of SDGs, thus spur actions in their communities and holding leaders accountable for their actions and inactions. 2. With millions of children and young people becoming aware of the goal more and more are taking actions across the globe. 3. Accountability, global leaders and decision makers must be held to account on commitments made so far on the SDGs.

It is possible to achieve UNESCO SDG 1 No Poverty, if there are holistic approaches and certain measures are in place.  In his article titled: Is a World without Poverty Possible? Magdy Martinez-Soliman, Director Bureau for Policy and Programme Support of the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), gave an insight on how to achieve SDG 1 No Poverty and spelt out three actions that are necessary to get a world without poverty. Martinez-Soliman (2014, December 12), what we mean when we say “a world without poverty’ is that we need to go beyond income poverty alone. People need decent jobs, greater access to information and knowledge, better health services, more secured livelihoods, security against crime and physical violence, political and cultural freedoms and opportunities to participate in community activities. Women need equality, minorities respect. The planet needs protection and the world need peace. The three actions are: Building resilience through a risk informed development, tackling inequality and ensuring inclusion and ensuring sustainability and job rich growth.

Kimaro (2013, November 29), many people will agree that increasing low wages is one way that could help reduce poverty, though this is contrary to the fundamental aspect of our capitalist. According to Jeffery Sachs, one of the world and American leading economist and celebrated author of the book titled: “The End of Poverty” observed that, it is possible for the world to end global extreme poverty in 20 years with an annual cost of $175 billion; a mere 0.7 percent of the combined national gross product of the 30 countries that make up the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Since 1950, World Vision has been working to pull up the root causes of poverty’s weeds and plant, the seed of chance, we see the multidimensional reality of global poverty, and so our world targets the biggest challenges: hunger and food security, education, economic empowerment, gender equality, disability inclusion, spiritual poverty, disaster relief and child protection. Our donor support in a single year are: Bring clean water to 3.3 million people, assist 12 million people with food projects, impact 1.4 million jobs, transformed the lives of more than 2.8 million kids, help 20.1 million disaster survivors and refugees, improve the quality of education and distribute almost 16.7 million long lasting insecticide bed nets (World Vision 2018).

Education can lead to a world with No Poverty in many ways. Increase access to education can contribute to the reduction of poverty. Basic skills such as reading, writing and numeracy have documented positive effect on marginalized populations’ income and thus increase the rate of return on the economy. Education also changes structures in food security. A study carried out in 1980 that is still relevant today, analyzed the effects of primary education on agricultural production in 13 countries. It was discovered that the average of annual gain in production in four years of schooling was 8.7 % (Lockheed, Jamison and Lau, 1980).

From the foregoing, it is obvious that education is a good investment and a “catalytic force” in the fight against poverty because youth who have relevant skills and theoretical abilities can easily exit the scourge of poverty that continues to ravage humanity. Education that targets the marginalized and poor population brings change to many systematic factors that have contributed to the delay in poor communities’ development. Education can prevent the transmission of poverty between generations (Kulild 2014).

GPE (2016, October 1`7), “We believe that ensuring quality education for all is not only central to the achievements of all of the Global Goals but in particular the goal to end poverty.” The report by UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report and the Education Commission’s Learning Generation avail us important evidence on the impact of education on individual earnings and economic growth. There are compelling data which illustrates the link between education and No Poverty.

  1. Education reduces level of poverty: 171 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty if all children left school with basic reading skills in equivalence to 12% percent drop in world total.
  2. Education increase individual earnings and income: Education increases earnings by roughly 10% per additional year of school earnings increase by $5 in the low income countries of the world.
  3. Education reduces inequality-Social and Economic: If workers from poor and rich background received the same education, disparity between the two in working poverty could decrease by 39%
  4. Education guarantee and promotes economic growth: Educational attainment explain about half of the difference in growth between East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa between 1965 – 2010 and in 2050, GDP per capita in income countries would be almost 70% lower than it will be if all children were learning. Increase tertiary attainment by one year on average would increase sub-Saharan Africa’s long term GDP by 16%.
  5. Education help to save the planet: One may ask what does that have to do with poverty? Overall climate change and the resulting increasing frequency of natural disasters and reduced agricultural input could put about 122 million people in poverty in 2030. Creation of green industries will rely on high-skilled, educated workers. Agriculture contributes to 1/3 of all greenhouse gas emissions. Primary and Secondary Education can provide future farmers with critical knowledge about the sustainability challenges inherent in agricultural practices.

Source: UNESCO GEM Report and Learning Generation Report 2016

Education can improve in my community so that the next generation has the tools and mindset for No Poverty. Joseph & Said (2020, April 4), this can be achieved through implementation of activities related to community education or community-based education (CBE). This is possible because CBE is centered on student’s capability to recognize and support the needs of the community. The community based concept provides values which give students freedom to express themselves develop and solve problems faced by communities (Villani & Atkins (2000).

Community education is a way of looking at public education as a total community enterprise. A community education program is a comprehensive and coordinated plan for providing educational, recreational, social, and cultural services for all people in the community.

Community education has three basic components-lifelong learning opportunities, community involvement in schools, and efficient use of resources-and is based on a set of ten broad principles:

  1. Lifelong learning
  2. Self-determination
  3. Self Help
  4. Leadership Development
  5. Institutional responsiveness
  6. Integrated Delivery Service
  7. Localization
  8. Maximum use of resources
  9. Inclusiveness
  10. Access to public information.

Strategies for community education: 1. Encourage increased use of community resources and volunteers to augment the basic educational program 2. Develop educational partnership between schools and public service providers, business and industry, and civic and social service organizations 3. Use public education facilities as community service centers for meeting educational, social, health, and cultural and recreational needs of all ages and sectors of the community 4. Develop an environment that fosters lifelong learning 5. Establish a process for involving the community in educational planning and decision-making 6. Provide responsive, community based system for collective action by all educational and community agencies to address community issues 7. Develop a system that facilitate home-school-community communication (Education Encyclopedia StateUniversity.com.Education Encyclopedia 2020)

In conclusion, the UNESCO SDG 1 No Poverty is on top of the SDGs as number one, that indicated how strategic it is in attaining sustainability as enunciated in the goals. The SDG pride itself as crucial in solving some of the goals as it encompasses issues that are related to health, education, and climate change, among others. Achieving the SDGs lies on the national governments and communities through policy direction, a government that is well school on sustainability and it consequences to humanity is more likely to pursue goals that are geared towards preservation for the next generation. Where leadership cannot grasp the essences of the UNESCO SDG is a minus, as a matter of fact, there should be leadership classes designed for those in public and civil services and political leadership positions in government to market the sustainability of nature, resources and the planet earth. National, State and Local governments must alleviate the status of it citizenry economically and preserves the dignity of human person in concrete terms.

Another issue to contend with, on one hand, is the extreme poverty status of people arising from war, insurgency and violent conflicts and on the other hand, the extreme wealth of some individuals, a growing factor in human society especially in Africa where leadership has not be able to improve on the living condition of her people implicitly the growing poverty level. Africa and other countries in the world must work on the development of every child born to avert lack of education and skill among the children and young men and women.

The corruption associated with governance of some nation states and the reality of corrupt statecraft that doe little about a clean slate gave extreme wealth status to some persons in our society, it represents a betrayal of public thrust in democratic system.

Nonetheless, the bulk of the work towards No Poverty lies with  national, state and local governments, as well as the private enterprises and individuals to pursue this all important sustainable development goal, UNESCO’s SDG 1 No Poverty.


Education Encyclopedia, Community Education A Comprehensive Plan, Community School, Impact on Education and Communities, Community Education in Action. Retrieved from: education.stateuniversity.com

Global Partnership for Education (GPE) (17 October 2016), 5 Ways Education Can Help end Extreme Poverty, retrieved from www.globalpartnership.org

IBERDROLA (2020), Iberdrola makes energy accessible to the financially underprivileged, retrieved from www.iberdrola.com

Joseph C., Said R. (2020) Community-Based Education: A Participatory Approach to Achieved the Sustainable Development Goal. In Leal Filho W., Azul A.M., Brandli L., Ozuyar P.G., Wall T. (eds) Quality Education. Encyclopedia of UN Sustainable Development Goals. Springer, Cham.


Kimaro, C. (29 November, 2013) “One upon a time….a world with no poverty” Youth Voices-Their Perspectives, The Commonwealth Youth Programme retrieved from www.yourcommonwealth.org

Kulild (11 November 2014), Role of Education in Ending Extreme Poverty-Taking a Global Lead, retrieved from www.norad.no

Martinez-Soliman, M. (12 December 2014) Is a world without poverty possible? United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), retrieved from www.undp.org

UNESCO (2017) 8UIL Policy Brief 8 Community based learning for sustainable development. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org

UNICEF (2020), How can we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for and with children? Retrieved from www.unicef.org

World Vision (2018), Global Poverty: Facts, FAQs, and how to help, retrieved from www.worldvision.org

Villani C.J, Atkins.D, (2000), Community-based education, School Community. Retrieved from: scholar.google.com


Valentine Opaluwa Ejeh

Researcher/ Writer/ SDGs Advocate based in Abuja Nigeria



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