How To End Worldwide Poverty By 2030

It’s a bold idea—and it’s actually happening

A bold experiment announced by the nonprofit GiveDirectly builds on growing evidence that simply giving people money can play a major role in mitigating the worst pains of extreme poverty, particularly among those living on $1 a day or less. Conventional wisdom says it’s too impractical, too costly, and unlikely to forge real change. But independent studies, including randomized control trials, indicate that one-off cash transfers can boost food consumption, improve the health of children, and help people and their small businesses establish long-term incomes. Despite concerns from skeptics, recipients don’t appear to buy unhealthy or frivolous items.

Of course, a basic income doesn’t solve all the big problems linked to extreme poverty. They don’t pay for public goods—things like roads, health clinics, or electricity grids—which are essential ingredients for successful market economies, but they do seem to expand people’s options in making their own life choices. GiveDirectly recently promised to go “next level” later this year, targeting more than 6,000 people in dozens of villages around Kenya, where poverty levels remain at over 40 percent. The program will provide participants with a basic income of around $0.75 to $1.10 per person per day for 10 years, and will partner with prominent independent researchers to assess the long-term effects through various metrics.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]How much would it cost to provide a basic income to everyone living in extreme poverty? The answer depends on how ‘basic’ is defined.[/quote]

But how practical is this on a global scale? How much would it cost to provide a basic income to everyone living in extreme poverty? The answer depends on how “basic” is defined. By my estimation, the amount of money required to close the extreme poverty income gap for the entire world is around $70 billion per year. At first, this might sound like a lot, but it only works out to about 0.15 percent of high-income countries’ total annual income. The cost should continue to fall, since the number of extremely poor people has been dropping each year, while advanced economies continue to grow. On a business-as-usual trajectory, the gap falls to around $30 billion by 2030, or roughly 0.05 percent of advanced economies’ income. The year 2030 is pivotal. World leaders recently agreed on that date as the deadline for ending extreme poverty. Large-scale trials like GiveDirectly’s will be crucial to figuring out how to achieve this goal and get the most bang for each buck.

UBI 101

Who else is trying UBI? Switzerland will vote in June on a proposed “unconditional basic income” of 2,500 francs monthly (around $2,500) per adult, while proposals for city-specific pilot programs await votes in Finland’s and Holland’s legislatures.

Who pays for it? Most practically, governments would simply redirect money currently budgeted for existing social safety nets—on which the U.S. spends around $1 trillion each year—which are theoretically less efficient at helping citizens build wealth.

Won’t people stop working? Maybe, but not for the reason you might think. In the Canadian town of Dauphin, where UBI was tested in the 1970s, the only populations that worked substantially fewer hours were adolescent boys, who stayed enrolled longer in school, and women, who spent more time at home with newborn babies. Experiments conducted in the U.S. between 1968 and 1982 showed similar results.


The global climate change strikes on Friday are said to have been the largest protest for climate change in history. An estimated four million people participated in 2,500 events across 163 countries on all seven continents. That included an estimated 300,000 Australians, but a total of zero were in Hyde Park in Sydney, despite a viral photo that claims otherwise.

Australian Youth Coal Coalition, a pro-coal Facebook page, posted a photo showing trash strewn across a park after what appears to have been a large event. "Look at the mess today's climate protesters left behind in beautiful Hyde Park," the photo was captioned. "So much plastic. So much landfill. So sad." The only problem is, the photo wasn't taken after a climate change protest. It wasn't even taken in Australia.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

As world leaders meet to discuss new ways to tackle climate change at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, they might miss one very big part of healing nature – nature. In a new short film, youth climate change activist Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot, a writer for the Guardian, talked about how we need to use nature as a solution to climate change.

There's a huge push to curb emissions, but it's not the be all end all of handling climate change; we also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While we don't have technology to do that for us, there is another solution. "There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It's called a tree," Monboit says in the film. Researchers found that we could get rid of two-thirds of the carbon dioxide that we've emitted during the industrial era just by growing trees. That amounts to 205 billion tons of carbon. Right now, deforestation of tropical forests is responsible for 20% of current greenhouse emissions.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet