Erradicating extreme poverty and hunger in the world
-This is a speech I gave in the United Nations in 2013 in a small little room packed with people, I hope you enjoy it!
First of all let me tell you how privileged I feel for being able to talk here, and in behalf of all my colleges let me say that we will be eternally gratefull for being listened as part of the future of this world. That is exactly what we are here to talk about.. THE FUTURE. Not the future that we think awaits us but the future we want. A future where there will no longer be the need to hold confereces such as this one.
Now, before talking about this posibly wonderfull future, let us talk about the current world we live in.
Before getting into statistics let me just say that most of this figures are a bit fuzzy due to the extreme difficulty that institutions go through to collect this data
The UN defines extreme poverty as living with less than a dollar a day.. a dollar a day! We know that there is around 1200 million people living under these conditions everyday, I think we can all agree that these people suffer extreme poverty. But what about those who live with less than 2 dollars a day? The UN does not consider them as extremely poor, im sorry, I appreciate in great manner the work that is carried here in the UN, both in research and action, but.. are you kidding?? Really? With less than 2 dollars a day we dont consider it extreme poverty? Why dont we ask the 2000 million people who live under these conditions? What would they tell us??
Every 3.5 seconds a person in this world dies due to lack of food and most of the time this person is a child.
I always thought about poverty like one of those things that did not discriminate between genders. What a surprise when I found out that 7 out of 10 people suffering poverty knowadays are actually women. ONE of the reasons for this is that house hold chores are not considered a worth paying job, and unfortunately there are still far more women than men taking care of the house hold
I could go on and on with more and more statistics, but I must respect the time given and in that sense my colleges time aswell, so lets move on to the world we want and how I think we might get there.
I am a very realistic person, some people even call me pesimistic, I dont believe in a utopic world without suffering, injustice or even relative poverty. I dont. Im one of those people that believe that these things are and always will be part of the human condition, it is what makes us thrive, what makes us want to fight, the basis of human ambition.
HOWEVER I do believe in a world where no woman, man or child will die due to hunger, specially considering that everyday we produce enough food to feed the entire world twice. I believe in a world where there will no longer be the need for humanitarian help, where every woman, man or child, no matter where they where born, can buy or produce their own food.
How can we get there? When most of us think about how to help solve this problems we automatically go to the easiest solution, the simplest… lets donate money! But.. Does this REALLY help?? Obviously it doesnt hurt, and I too believe that we should keep helping in this way. But we musnt stop there. What I believe is in giving them the tools to get themselfs out of extreme poverty. I believe in a continent like Africa, for example, to turn from a food importer into a food exporter. At least in the middle run. I believe in the developed continents, such as Europe and America, opening their doors fully to these products, lets not tax them, or at least lets not tax them more than we do domestic products
I believe in the importance of the middle class, something we dont talk enough about. It is not the government or the top 1% of multibillioners that push economies forward, it is the middle class, people like you and me in most cases, that push economies, people that start their own little businesses, or even those who dont, those who work from 9 am to 8 pm and pay for a kinder garden for their children or a house maid. These people, the mass population; generate employment everyday. And how can we help them? Im not talking about subsidies, which depending in what countries might be usefull, it is as simple as FAIR taxation! Im well aware that this is a measure more for the long run in most developing countries, but non the less we must ensure avoiding abusive taxes.
….In my opinion anything beyond 20% tax over income, no matter how high or low it is, IS abusive. I might agree that for some people this might seem too low, but i think we could all agree that anything over 50% is not taxation but extorsion.
I believe in responsible consumption in developed countries. Do you know how many tons of food are thrown out every year? 1300 million tons of food. Can you imagine a private business thowing out that amount of usable material? Of course not! It would be bankrupt! We must tuckle this consumerism madness! We must reward those food companies that reduce to the minium this waste and penalise those which dont.
So to round up everything, I would like all of us to exit this room being absolutely concious that the current situation is unacceptable and we must fight to change it, not only for humanitarian issues, but even for selfish reasons, can you imagine the potential market behind these developing economies?