Editorial: Address global poverty with private sector help

July 21 , 2015

The deadline to achieve the United Nations-led Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger is set for the end of 2015. And with the Post-2015 Development Agenda to be discussed in September, the volume of international consultations is intensifying.

According to the UN, the MDG of halving the proportion of people living on less than US$1.25 a day by 1990 (known as MDG 1A) has essentially been reached: some 800 million people live in extreme poverty today versus the 1.9 billion a quarter-century ago. Countries such as Brazil, China and India have shown significant improvement.

But progress in other areas, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, has been less than hoped. Roughly half the 800 million people who now live in extreme poverty are concentrated in the area. Indeed, of the 48 countries whose development continues to lag, 33 are located south of the Saharan Desert. All told, there clearly remains much work to be done to improve the plight of the impoverished as new goals are determined after September.

However, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that the cost of achieving the new poverty-eradication goal should surpass 410 trillion yen. And securing such funds will be a daunting task.

Among the solutions to this challenge that the UNCTAD held earlier this month has been the use of private sector financing. The Japanese government, for instance, is already working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest of its kind in the world, to provide polio vaccinations for impoverished Pakistanis. If the program proves successful, the foundation pays the 5 billion yen grant from Tokyo to Islamabad. 

Komeito has been an active supporter of such collaborative assistance provided by the public and private sectors, and aims to expand the scope of such activities in the future.