Poverty & Sustainable Development

Poverty & Sustainable Development

NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations


The report features a comparison of several calorie- and income-based poverty measures to a new and broader Poverty of Opportunity Index, a comprehensive analysis of trends in income poverty and human development, the macro-economic factors that have determined these trends over the last two and a half decades, and the effect of government policy on poverty reduction since Independence .

A Profile of Poverty in Pakistan

Widespread poverty remains Pakistan 's most persistent and urgent problem. Whether we define poverty using the narrow definition of lack of adequate food or income or the broader definition of lack of access to opportunities, the number of people in poverty in Pakistan falls between the range of a quarter to a half of the total population. Income poverty in Pakistan has increased from 30% in 2000 to 45% in 2004.

But for poor people, poverty means poverty of opportunity, not just poverty of income. Income poverty is only one of many deprivations. Other human deprivations include lack of education, ill health, social exclusion, discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender or religion and political repression. Poverty is a multi-dimensional phenomenon, not a single-dimensional issue.

Poverty of opportunity is the cause; poverty of income is the result. For policy makers, it is important to focus on strategies that address poverty of opportunity because only then the poor can be integrated into the mainstream of development. The poor must be empowered, income transfer or charity is not the lasting solution to poverty.

Pakistan 's growing poverty lies with the successive governments' failure to translate economic growth into poverty reduction and sustainable development prospects for the poor. We can draw several lessons from Pakistan 's failure to reduce poverty even when it experienced reasonable economic growth.

First, equitable patterns of growth are essential for sustained reduction of poverty. This requires a two-pronged approach consisting of broad-based economic growth across income groups and improved access to education, healthcare, family planning, sanitation, clean drinking water and micro-credit. These two elements are mutually reinforcing and should be implemented simultaneously.

Second, different strategies are required to address poverty in rural and in urban areas. Rural poverty requires more immediate attention as there are more poor people in rural areas than in urban areas. This means that the prevailing urban bias in public spending for social services has to be corrected and resources have to be redirected toward rural development and agricultural support programmes. It also means correcting gender bias in providing social service and micro-credit. But most important of all, it is essential to have meaningful land reforms and agricultural income tax. The poor must have a share in the growth of the economy.

Third, strategies should be disaggregated down to local level so that they can respond to the felt needs of a community or a village. Poverty alleviation strategies based on national data are irrelevant to the needs and concerns of poor people at the local level.

Finally, the real answer to poverty reduction lies in changing the very model of development from traditional economic growth to human development where human capabilities are built up and human opportunities enlarged, and where people become the agents and beneficiaries of economic growth. Such human development models rely on certain core strategies for poverty elimination, in particular, basic education and basic health for all, credit to the poor, women's empowerment, land reforms, equitable growth and good governance. This is the main lesson from the experience of several countries that have substantially reduced poverty over the last two decades, including Malaysia , China , Republic of Korea and Colombia .


IHRO is keenly promoting link between Human Rights and Sustainable Development at the local, regional, national as well as globally:

By cordially working with United Nations on Sustainable Development. IHRO participated in the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002 in South Africa. For the promotion of the great agenda of United Nations IHRO is into various projects of Sustainable Development in Pakistan as well as globally.

In November 2001, IHRO was present at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) convened an International Forum on National Sustainable Development Strategies in Accra , Ghana . The meeting identified a list of key characteristics constituting sound national sustainable development strategy and provided a first international understanding of what constitutes such a strategy. A Guidance Document1, outlining key characteristics of an NSDS, was prepared based on the recommendations of the meeting. The meeting also agreed that an NSDS is a tool for informed decision-making that provides a framework for systematic thought across sectors and territory. It should not be seen as a new plan, or as a separate planning process outside existing ones, but rather as the adaptation of existing processes in compliance with sustainable development principles.

The main object of maintaining prisons IHRO participated in "The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)", held in August 2002, urged states in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) to take immediate steps to make progress in the formulation and elaboration of NSDS and begin their implementation by 2005. Furthermore, both the JPOI and the 11th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) re-affirmed the importance of indicators of sustainable development and encouraged further work on those indicators by countries at the national level, in line with national conditions and priorities.


A number of activities to be carried out at the national level and by regional and international organizations that could support the process of developing national sustainable development strategies. Among these, attention was given in particular to undertaking the following, as appropriate:

* Country reviews of existing national strategies to determine whether or not they could be revised to conform to the principle les and characteristics of national sustainable development strategies;
* Revision of existing strategies or preparation of new NSDS, as appropriate, and establishment of the requisite institutional framework;
* Organizing meetings between representatives from countries with mature NSDS and those from countries that are just beginning the process. In this respect, Egypt invited representatives of the Arab States to participate in its upcoming meeting on environmental management, in Cairo , 7-9 February 2005;
* Comparative studies of country experiences with intergenerational funds;
* Compilation and comparison of examples of NSDS from countries around the world with an emphasis on elaboration of the elements that make them responsive to national needs and characteristics;
* Preparation of modular manuals for countries to guide them through the process of preparing NSDS;
* Preparation of a regional comprehensive study on both data availability and the action required for capacity-building in the area of data generation and collection, data quality and the development of indicators for sustainable development. In this regard, the meeting emphasized the importance of coordinating with the Abu Dhabi Environmental Data Initiative; * Increased allocation of national resources to develop national data for sustainable development, with support from regional and international organizations, as appropriate.


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