United Nations
United Nations 16 Oct 2020

Int'l Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct 17) – António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

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The COVID-19 pandemic is a double crisis for the world's poorest people.

First, they have the highest risk of exposure to the virus, and least access to quality healthcare.

Second, recent estimates show the pandemic could push up to 115 million people into poverty this year - the first increase in decades. Women are at greatest risk because they are more likely to lose their jobs, and less likely to have social protection.

In these extraordinary times, we need extraordinary efforts to fight poverty.

The pandemic demands strong collective action.

Governments must accelerate economic transformation by investing in a green, sustainable recovery.

We need a new generation of social protection programmes that also cover people working in the informal economy.

Joining together in common cause is the only way we will emerge safely from this pandemic.

On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let's stand in solidarity with people living in poverty, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.


Each year World Habitat Day focuses attention on the state of the world's towns and cities. This year's observance highlights the centrality of housing as a driver for sustainable urban development.

Currently, 1 billion people live in overcrowded settlements with inadequate housing. By 2030, that number will rise to 1.6 billion. Action is needed now to provide low-income families and vulnerable populations with affordable housing with security of tenure and easy access to water, sanitation, transport and other basic services. To meet global demand, more than 96,000 housing units will need to be completed every day - and they must be part of the green transition.

The urgency of improving living conditions has been brought to the fore by COVID-19, which has devastated the lives of millions in cities. Access to clean water and sanitation, along with social distancing, are key responses to the pandemic. Yet in slums it has proved difficult to implement these measures. This means an increased risk of infection, not only within slums, but in whole cities, many of which are largely serviced by low-income informal sector workers living in informal settlements.

On World Habitat Day, in this crucial Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, I call for heightened efforts to promote the partnerships, pro-poor policies, and regulations needed to improve housing in cities. As we strive to overcome the pandemic, address the fragilities and inequalities it has exposed, and combat climate change, now is the time to harness the transformative potential of urbanization for the benefit of people and planet.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the importance of strengthening disaster risk reduction.

Many countries are facing multiple crises simultaneously.

We will see more of this.

Extreme weather events have risen dramatically over the past two decades.

Yet, we have seen little progress on reducing climate disruption and environmental degradation.

Bad situations only get worse without good disaster risk governance.

Disaster risk isn't the sole responsibility of local and national authorities.

COVID-19 has shown us that systemic risk requires international cooperation.

Good disaster risk governance means acting on science and evidence.

And that requires political commitment at the highest level to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

To eradicate poverty and reduce the impacts of climate change, we must place the public good above all other considerations.

For these reasons and more, this year's International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is all about strengthening disaster risk governance to build a safer and more resilient world.
The award of this year's Nobel Prize for Peace to the United Nations World Food Programme recognizes the right of all people to food, and our common quest to achieve zero hunger.

In a world of plenty, it is a grave affront that hundreds of millions go to bed hungry each night.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further intensified food insecurity to a level not seen in decades.

Some 130 million people risk being pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of this year.

This is on top of the 690 million people who already lack enough to eat.

At the same time, more than 3 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet.

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, we need to intensify our efforts to achieve the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals.

That means a future where everyone, everywhere, has access to the nutrition they need.

Next year, I will convene a Food Systems Summit to inspire action towards this vision.

We need to make food systems more resistant to volatility and climate shocks.

We need to ensure sustainable and healthy diets for all, and to minimize food waste.

And we need food systems that provide decent, safe livelihoods for workers.

We have the know-how and the capacity to create a more resilient, equitable and sustainable world.

On this World Food Day, let us make a commitment to "Grow, Nourish, and Sustain. Together".
Around the world, nearly 1 billion people live with a mental disorder. Every 40 seconds, someone dies from suicide. And depression is now recognized as a leading cause of illness and disability among children and adolescents.

All of this was true, even before COVID-19. We are now seeing the consequences of the pandemic on people's mental well-being, and this is just the beginning. Many groups, including older adults, women, children and people with existing mental health conditions are at risk of considerable medium- and long-term ill-health if action is not taken.

Addressing mental health is central to achieving Universal Health Coverage. It deserves our commitment. Too few people have access to quality mental health services. In low- and middle-income countries, more than 75 per cent of people with mental health conditions receive no treatment at all. And, overall, governments spend on average less than 2 per cent of their health budgets on mental health. This cannot go on.

We can no longer ignore the need for a massive scale-up in investment in mental health. We must act together, now, to make quality mental health care available for all who need it to allow us to recover faster from the COVID-19 crisis.

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