You might not believe it, but extreme poverty is in retreat. In 1990, 43 percent of the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day. Today, the global poverty rate has dropped to less than 20 percent. If the world can avoid becoming complacent and keep momentum on the side of the poor, there's a real opportunity to end extreme poverty within a generation — this generation.
At the World Bank Group, we've made ending extreme poverty by 2030 our central goal. Our members — 188 governments — have endorsed this goal. We are working closely with them, along with the private sector, civil society groups, and other international organizations, to get there. But we need your help too. All of us can play a role — through education, political voice, and through action. What we need is a global movement to make this the generation that ends extreme poverty — a groundswell of public support from around the world to keep everyone focused on the same goal.
One organization that is working to catalyze such a movement is the Global Poverty Project. This weekend, I will be joining the Global Citizen Festival in New York City's Central Park, along with Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder, and others — to help build a social movement to take action to end poverty. The festival is a great way to capture global attention, connect with young people from around the world, and channel their creativity and dynamism into this ambitious effort. The Global Poverty Project has just launched a global petition that calls on all countries around the world to support all efforts to end extreme poverty by 2030. We want to see hundreds of thousands of people, and more, signing on. I will share this petition with the governments we work with at the World Bank, when they gather at our Spring Meetings next April, to show them that their citizens want them to do everything they can to end poverty by 2030.
It won't be easy. Just because ending poverty is an achievable goal doesn't mean it isn't ambitious. It means halving the 2010 poverty rate. Then halving it again. And then nearly halving it a third time — all in less than one generation. But we have made more progress in the last two decades in fighting poverty than in all of human history. Now is the time to keep the momentum going. We can build on this success and the knowledge and experience we have gained. I believe that there is a real opportunity — for the first time ever — to end extreme poverty within a generation.
We can do this. Let's be the generation that ends extreme poverty.