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Empowering the Poorest of the Poor

17 October 2005

The International Day for Poverty Eradication

17 October 2005- The International Day for Poverty Eradication seeks to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and to work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people living in poverty by 2015.

The Day is marked this year under the theme: "Achieving the Millennium Development Goals - empowering the poorest of the poor"

Because poor people have limited financial resources, they depend on the environment for their basic needs, such as water, food, shelter. When environmental degradation occurs, the capacity of poor people to make decisions that contribute to their well-being is undermined.

Until the high degree of dependency of poor people on the environment is addressed, poverty alleviation will not be achieved.

The benefits that the environment brings to humans are generated through ecosystem services, which are defined as the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems contribute to human economic and social well-being. Ecosystem services provide benefits for humans through:

•Provisioning: natural resources used for economic activities;

•Food, fuel, plant and animal products, energy, fibre, non-living resources and water, among other things;

•Regulating: life supporting functions for humans such as purification of air and water, mitigation of floods and droughts, decomposition of wastes;

•Cultural: Recreation and tourism, educational and spiritual;

•Supporting: Bio-geographical systems of soil formation, nutrient cycling and primary biological production that underpin the other services.

A key to achieving environmentally sustainable use of resources is to fully integrate environmental sustainability into poverty reduction strategies and other national or sectoral development plans. Such integration should include ensuring that environmental sustainability is a key objective of such strategies and plans.

UNEP's work on poverty and the environment is a direct response to this challenge. It aims to promote the goals of environmental sustainability and poverty reduction, thereby contributing to the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals.

UNEP’s efforts in this area focus on: promoting awareness about the links between poverty and the environment, increasing capacity to integrate environment into development plans, and contributing to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

To mark the International day for the Eradication of Poverty, UNEP headquarters in Nairobi is organizing and hosting an Art Exhibition entitled “Poverty…the way we see it!” The event brings together over 100 African and expatriate artists who specifically created work for this occasion revolving around the themes of Poverty and the MDGs. The exhibition is part of the Art for the Environment Initiative which aims to promote environmental and UN ideals through art.




Further Resources

Poverty & the Environment

Poverty & the Environment Partnership

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
Official Website

UNEP and Millenium Development Goals

United Nation Millenium Development Goals

Poverty and environment on the G8 Summit agenda

Green Room


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