End extreme poverty in all its forms, including hunger, child stunting, malnutrition, and food insecurity. Support highly vulnerable countries.

Targets and Indicators

1a. End extreme poverty including absolute income poverty ($1.25 or less per day).

1. Percentage of population below $1.25 (PPP) per day (MDG Indicator)

2. [Percentage of population in extreme multi-dimensional poverty] – indicator to be developed

1b. End hunger and achieve food security, appropriate nutrition, and zero child stunting.

3. Prevalence of stunting in children under [5] years of age

4. Percentage of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption (MDG Indicator)

5. [Percentage of population with shortfalls of any one of the following essential micronutrients: iron, zinc, iodine, vitamin A, folate, and vitamin B12] – indicator to be developed

1c. Provide enhanced support for highly vulnerable states and Least Developed Countries, to address the structural challenges facing those countries, including violence and conflict.*

6. Refugees and internal displacement caused by conflict and violence

7. Percent of UN Emergency Appeals delivered


As agreed in The Future We Want (paragraph 2), poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. The world has made great progress in reducing extreme poverty since the adoption of the MDGs. It now has a realistic prospect of eradicating extreme poverty in all its forms by 2030.[1] So ending extreme poverty in all its forms, backed by bold and updated MDG targets, should constitute a clear priority of the SDGs and become the first goal. In this way the world will ensure continuity in the fight against extreme poverty during the transition from MDGs to SDGs.

Of all of the MDGs, the challenge of ending hunger has proven to be the most difficult. Chronic hunger continues to afflict some 870 million people, as reflected in a high prevalence of childhood stunting and other hunger indicators. In addition, serious micronutrient deficiencies affect hundreds of millions more people. It is estimated that some 3 million children under the age of 5 die each year as a result of under-nutrition. In many regions climate change, water stress, and other environmental threats (e.g. land degradation and loss of biodiversity) are making the food supply unstable, increasing the risk of hunger. Rapid population growth in impoverished, food-deficit regions adds to these challenges. Moreover, global and local food markets are prone to wide price fluctuations.

Strategies to address hunger need to include (i) increasing the availability and affordability of nutritious food, particularly for vulnerable populations; (ii) promoting safe water, sanitation and hygiene to reduce diarrheal diseases that cause malnutrition, particularly among young children; (iii) targeted nutrition programs for vulnerable children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers, including the promotion of breast feeding; and (iv) food safety nets for natural disasters and emergencies. We emphasize the urgency and complexity of fighting hunger, and link it to the challenges of gender equality, health and healthy behaviors, sustainable agriculture, water management, sanitation and hygiene, climate change, and ecosystem management described under the other goals.

While most countries have the domestic resources to end extreme poverty, some 70 or so low-income or otherwise vulnerable countries do not. The most vulnerable regions include: the Horn of Africa (plus Yemen), the Sahel, the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, and parts of South and Central Asia. There are also several landlocked and small-island economies in other parts of the world that remain in considerable distress and whose development challenges are greatly exacerbated by their structural conditions.

Many of these vulnerable countries and regions are too poor, too remote, too conflict-ridden, too bereft of natural resources, and/or too burdened by other challenges (e.g. natural hazards and high disease burdens) to meet the goals for sustainable development on their own. Many are severely affected by climate and other environmental changes and need to strengthen resilience. An estimated 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by chronic insecurity or conflict that is partly driven by lack of development, which in turn can become a driver of more insecurity and violence.

These vulnerable countries and regions need special international support to break the vicious cycle of lack of economic development, environmental degradation, rapid population growth, insecurity, and conflict. Ending and preventing conflicts and building peace often requires international support in the form of mediation, peacekeeping, and timely assistance to address the underlying economic and social crises that drive such conflicts. Of course, such external support can be effective only when national governments also play their part in strengthening the policy and legal frameworks for action and improving governance. Some vulnerable countries have substantial natural resources (minerals, hydrocarbon, and land) that – if carefully used – can be a catalyst for poverty reduction and economic development. Special care must be taken, however, to avoid the infamous “resource curse” in the development of these primary resources (see Goal 9).

[1] The World Bank and its Governors have recently endorsed the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.



What is transformative about goal 1 “End Extreme Poverty Including Hunger”?
This goal is transformative because it extends MDG 1 to “zero”, calling for an end to extreme poverty and hunger by 2030. Unlike when the MDGs were formulated, this ambition is now feasible: between 2015 and 2030, we can almost completely eradicate both conditions from the face of the earth.

However, this goal goes further than extreme income poverty and hunger. It considers other, non-consumption based measures of poverty, via the inclusion of an indicator on multi-dimensional poverty. Our proposal for a multi-dimensional poverty indicator (MPI) broadens the standard definition of poverty and should bring about transformative change via more holistic programs to address this challenge. Similarly transformative is the measurement of both caloric and micronutrient deficiency for entire populations (not just pregnant woman and children) to fully capture hunger in all its dimensions, with data to be disaggregated to ensure all sensitive sub-populations also meet targets. A third transformative aspect of our framing of Goal 1 is the inclusion of measurements of conflict and sufficient support for vulnerable countries, where poverty and hunger have proven especially difficult to address. This should encourage additional support for countries facing multiple stresses.

How do the goals define poverty?
We use the term “extreme poverty in all its forms” for the multidimensional concept of poverty encapsulated in the MDGs, comprising inter alia income poverty, hunger, gender inequality, lack of education, poor health, and lack of access to basic infrastructure services. Extreme income poverty or “absolute income poverty” is defined by the World Bank as a per capita income of less than $1.25 per day. We measure social inclusion in part by the use of “relative poverty,” defined by the OECD as the proportion of households with incomes less than half of the national median income.

Why is hunger included under poverty instead of agriculture?
Several arguments have prompted the Leadership Council to include hunger and nutrition under extreme poverty:

i. Hunger and malnutrition are challenges that affect rural as well as urban areas, so grouping hunger under a place-based “rural” goal might weaken the focus on urban hunger;
ii. Hunger is not only a function of food availability, which a goal focused on sustainable food production might suggest;
iii. Stunting and malnutrition are key dimensions of extreme poverty that give substance to the notion of “extreme poverty in all its forms”; and
iv. A poverty/hunger goal ensures full continuity with MDG 1.

Note that in sub-Saharan Africa, the links between hunger and low agricultural productivity are especially acute, so that, in this region, the reduction of hunger and the achievement of sustainable agriculture are deeply intertwined.

What is the reasoning behind the focus on highly vulnerable states and regions?
Certain parts of the world, including the Sahel, the Horn of Africa (plus Yemen), the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, and parts of Central Asia, face extraordinary challenges as the result of the combination of extreme poverty, weak infrastructure, chronic violence, rapid population growth, and inherently difficult geographical conditions (such as being landlocked, small island states, extremely arid, highly vulnerable to droughts and floods, and/or having a high burden of communicable diseases such as malaria). Countries facing these tremendous and interconnected challenges need special international support, including timely and adequate external assistance. They also need a regional focus, since many of the problems (weak transportation, cross-border nomadism, displaced populations, droughts, epidemics, and conflicts) occur at the regional scale and must be addressed in part at that scale.

Why is there no stand-alone goal on peace and security?
We underscore the importance of peace and security as a central component of the four dimensions of sustainable development. Goal 1 includes a focus on vulnerable regions, including post-conflict regions, and a target to address conflict and violence. Goal 4 includes a target on reducing violence against individuals, especially women and children, which needs to be operationalized at the country level. This target addresses issues of gender-based violence and child protection, as well as personal security, which represent a critical challenge in conflict and post-conflict settings. Indeed many of the proposed goals address the structural causes of conflict such as inequality and exclusion, extreme poverty in all its forms, and poor governance.

The broader political issues of peace and security, which are typically addressed by the Security Council of the United Nations, go beyond the scope of the proposed SDGs. The post-2015 global policy framework, which will include more than the SDGs themselves, should also draw attention to the long-standing but still unfulfilled objective of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Why do some goals focus on outcomes whereas others focus on outputs or means?
Where possible, the SDGs should focus on outcomes, such as ending extreme poverty. Yet, the distinction between outcomes, outputs, and inputs needs to be handled pragmatically, and the design of goals and targets should be – we believe – guided by approaches that are best suited to mobilize action and ensure accountability. For example, ensuring universal access to healthcare or high-quality early childhood development (ECD) are important commitments for every government. Goals and targets that focus on these outputs will ensure operational focus and accountability. In some instances it also makes sense to target inputs. For example, official development assistance (ODA) is critical for ensuring many SDGs and needs to be mobilized in every high-income country. Mobilizing resources for sustainable development is difficult, so subsuming ODA as an implicit input into every SDG would make it harder for government leaders, citizens, and civil society organizations to argue for increased ODA. It would also weaken accountability for rich countries. Similar considerations apply, for example, to the proposed target on integrated reporting by governments and businesses on their contributions to the SDGs.

What does reducing to “zero” or “universal access” mean?
Many targets call for “universal access” (e.g. to infrastructure) or “zero” deprivation (e.g. extreme poverty, hunger). For each such target, the technical communities and member states will need to define the precise quantitative standard for their commitment to “universal access” or “zero” deprivation. We hope that in most cases these standards will indeed be 100 percent or 0 percent, respectively, but there may be areas where it is technically impossible to achieve 100 percent access or 0 percent deprivation. In such cases countries should aim to get as close as possible to 100 percent or 0 percent, respectively.

Why are some targets not quantified and marked with an asterisk? Why do some targets have numbers in square brackets?
It is important that every target can be measured at the national or local level, but not every target can be defined globally in a meaningful way, for three distinct reasons:

i. The starting points may differ too much across countries for a single meaningful quantitative standard at the global level;
ii. Some targets need to be adapted and quantified locally or may be relevant only in subsets of countries (e.g. those that refer to specific ecosystems);
iii. For some targets no global consensus exists today, and these still need to be negotiated, as is the case with greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. In the meantime, countries should establish their own plans and targets.

In some cases proposed numerical targets are presented in square brackets since these numbers are preliminary and may need to be reviewed by the corresponding technical communities.