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The shifting global poverty reduction agenda

Seven policy innovations of the year 2010

2010 has been a remarkable year. There is triumphalism around the perception of a quick recovery from the 2008/9 financial and economic crisis – a triumphalism which focuses blindly on GDP growth and is oblivious to the catastrophic levels of old and new unemployment. There are major policy regressions: many countries are reverting back to severe austerity programmes – or ‘fiscal consolidation’ as it is now called – pushing through massive cuts in social expenditures, especially in countries across Europe, and thus further increasing socio-economic divides. By Gabriele Köhler and Timo Voipio


At the same time, however, as a notable countermovement, we see seven policy innovations on the global poverty and social justice agenda. They largely have their origins in – and major momentum from – the “South”. These seven innovations include

1. the attention now devoted to employment in the form of proactive labour market policies and significant public works schemes at country level, such as the NREGA in India, and the Global Jobs Pact for decent work and employment-oriented recovery at the international level;
2. the push for universal social protection, with a global social protection floor movement spreading across Africa, Latin America and Asia, which is supported conceptually and with funding by the entire UN system;
3. recognition of the debilitating impact of social exclusion and inequality on poverty, human development and the individual MDG targets with much more focus on equity, inclusion, social investment and social integration policies;
4. the attention to preventable infant deaths and the interventions to save lives of mothers and their babies with a set of simple and cost effective methods, and a major funding push at national and international levels;
5. a more sensitive eye on the economics and politics of care;
6. a nascent attention, after decades of neglect, of the need for accelerated and transformative agricultural and rural development, including green growth and pro-poor land reform;
7. as an umbrella for all of these: the emerging convergence around a rights-based approach to the Millennium Development Goals ...

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