chapter  3
2 Pages

The Income Poverty MDG in a Human Development and Human Rights Framework

The UN had essentially adopted the OECD-DAC goal, but defined extreme poverty using the dollara-day metric; the only indicator that was explicitly included in the Declaration. Vandemoortele (2011) argues that the inclusion of this indicator at this stage was a political decision, resulting from the desire for an explicitly “money-metric” definition of poverty to be used for the poverty reduction target. The author suggests that the use of the money-metric definition of poverty implied a more conventional, economic growth-centric view of development, including the view that growth will automatically lead to poverty reduction, and that growth is necessary to achieve the MDGs (Vandemoortele 2011). The next year, the Secretary General released the “Road Map”, a plan for implementing the Millennium Declaration that included the MDGs, along with the specific targets and indicators (UN 2001). The road map was meant to finalize details on goals, targets and financing and was the result of frantic negotiations. The “Road Map” reproduced the same target related to the income poverty goal from the Declaration as MDG 1, verbatim. Overall, the outlined history suggests that devising MDG 1 was an ongoing and iterative process. The

net result was that the poverty agenda-defined as income poverty and growth required to address itmoved from being underplayed in the early 1990s to becoming an important part of development policy, for some international agencies at least, at the end of the decade. In addition, the risk for the world of having two sets of global reference goals, one emanating from the UN conferences and one from the donor countries, had become neutralized. The agreed-upon goal for poverty became the OECD-DAC target of halving extreme poverty, with “extreme poverty” specifically defined by the dollar-a-day metric. Ironically, the dollar-a-day may well have had limited resonance with national governments.2

Deaton suggests that estimates of poverty by international and national poverty lines operate within quite different policy spaces: