Trending: Ending Extreme Poverty

January 29, 2015 By Ashley E. (Chandler) Chang

On Monday, President Obama said this: “one of the great potentials for India and one of the great necessities for the world is that we find ways to lift people out of poverty.”

That was during his address to the U.S.-India Business Council Summit, and it isn’t an understatement. India is home to an estimated one-third of the world’s poor, as well as one-third of the world’s malnourished children.

But India has also made huge gains by cutting its official poverty rate in half from 45 percent to 22 percent between 1994 and 2012.

According to a recent Brookings blog, this global success story is a “continuation of the fastest pace of poverty reduction that the world has ever seen.” In fact, Brookings says “we are likely to see another 70 to 100 million people escaping extreme poverty” in 2015 alone.

But with an estimated 1.2 billion people still living on a little more than one dollar a day, much more remains to be done. This is why the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is “committed to eradicating extreme poverty” during the next decade and half.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “We know the tools that work, and we’ve learned a lot of those that don’t.” The tools that work have made significant gains in “expanding access to primary education, increasing life expectancies, fighting back against HIV and AIDS, improving maternal health, aiding child nutrition, and growing the middle class in countries that have through history never enjoyed even a glimmer of prosperity.”

So what about the next 15 years?

If you ask über philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, ending extreme poverty by 2030 is a “big bet,” but they feel good about the odds. In their annual letter, they predict that “lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history. And their lives will improve more than anyone else’s.”

From India to Switzerland to right here in the United States, there’s a palpable optimism about ending extreme poverty. Let’s make the most of this moment.