Poverty, Globalisation and Sustainable Development

Almost 50% of the world’s population, that is almost three billion people, struggle to survive on two dollars or even less per day. Somewhere between 27-28% of children in developing nations are very likely to be underweight and malnourished, barely getting enough nutrients to survive. The parts of the world which predominantly suffer from underweight children are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Around 1.1 billion people in poor countries don’t have access to clean hygienic water for consumption nor do they have water for sanitation and that’s why 2.6 billion of them are short of basic sanitation. There are 2.2 billion children in the world and 1 billion of them that is every second child is suffering from poverty. A quarter of the world’s population; 1.6 billion people have to do without electricity. For Every U.S dollar of aid that a developing country gets, they spend above 25 dollars to get rid of their debts. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 41 countries that are seriously in debt is a lot less than the assets of the world’s 7 richest people! (Shah, 2008)

That is what poverty and being poor is all about! Poverty is suffering due to the shortage or unavailability of the basic necessities of life. Poverty is a lack of resources, a life lacking quality. Poverty is having to live without the bare necessities of life that are so necessary in order to survive!

Poverty is people not having an access to access to safe, hygienic drinking water, lack of food, a lack of a roof over heads, a lack of clothes. Poverty is few or no opportunities available for learning (schools and other institutions), no employment and a below-average status among the other society members which usually results in scorn towards the poor by the other well off members of the society.

Poverty is very few opportunities, hardly any power and bad quality of life.

‘Sustainable Development is a theory that became popular and commonly used in the 1990s. It’s is about using the resources in such a way that there are plenty of them left for future generations. The theory is also about preserving and refining the quality of life. This theory includes various factors; social (the housing quality), crime, economic (means of employment and income), environmental (pollution, global warming, air quality and preserving natural resources). (National Curriculum in Action, 2001)

It is a development that takes care of the economic and social needs of society and simultaneously protects and improves the environment.

Globalisation is a phenomenon that means that the world is becoming smaller and coming together. Globalization is the increase in trades between countries, the increased investments in foreign countries by the citizens of other countries, the cultural exchange and foreign culture adaptation. Although globalization is old, it goes back hundreds of years but recently it has been on an increase.

In recent times due to the enormous exchange of information between countries and continents due to the power of full media and the ever-growing internet, the world has become a global village, where the world is interconnected and international influences play a role in everything from fashion to politics. (New World Encyclopedia, 2008)

Globalization also means designing a product or a service that is universal or global and can be used across the globe in various different countries without any changes being done to the product or service. It is a global movement to encourage the usage of the same goods and services across borders. It is to encourage the flow of money across borders and to boost the overall global economy and trade. (Global Edge Glossary, 2008)

Now, we come to how poverty, globalization and sustainable development are linked?

First of all, sustainability has many aspects to it. It facilitates the eradication of poverty and deprivation. Then due to it, resources are preserved and improved and this guarantees the eradication of poverty permanently. Globalisation helps in aiding sustainable development because it initiates the concept of development among nations and brings them together so that they are working together to use the resources in a way that doesn’t exhaust the resources and hence the nations are brought closer to each other economically, culturally and socially, while working for the betterment of the society and the environment around them. The core reason for sustainable development is that the society uses its needed resources but in a way that the future generations are not made to lose out on the resources that we take for granted and to leave a fair share of resources for the generations to come by using the natural resources wisely and rationally. (Glossary, 1998)

Hence, if we use our natural resources carefully and thoughtfully, we won’t be short of them in the long run and less expenditure would be devoted to trying to figure out artificial ways to produce the resources that are extinct. Therefore, poverty can be prevented, by utilizing resources properly and not having to spend money on artificial ways, instead, money could be spent on the well being of poorer nations and towards eliminating poverty.

The question is can globalization be the solution to eliminate global poverty and for achieving sustainable development?

Well, Globalisation can be an economic boost for countries as it provides jobs and establishes trades across borders. It certainly has the power to produce wealth and to develop better ways of living.

On the downside, the benefits that globalization brings from increased trade, investment to technological innovation are not always equally distributed.

After much thought and pondering, politicians, economists, and security experts have all agree that in the twenty-first-century globalisation is not a simple phenomenon it has many aspects and is quite intricate in nature. It is much more than just free trade between international borders in order to boost the world’s economy. (Ramos, 2003)

The international trade union movement advocates that in reality; most people worldwide are finding themselves worse due to it. Globalisation seems to be further increasing the gap between rich and poor. This is due to the reason that the policies behind globalisation seemed to mainly focus on the operating needs of a business. The harsh policies of freeing trade so that trade barriers can be removed, to promote privatization, and the reduction of legal protection for workers has negatively affected millions of people for the worse all over the globe. To make matters worse, numerous poorer countries have generated their economies towards manufacturing exports and they have also reduced expenditure on services such as health and education, which already don’t have sufficient funds to survive on, this is so the poor countries can make enough money to get rid of their foreign debts. (Trade Union Congress, 2001)

Also, developed nations have worked for years, to make open markets for their industrial goods in the poorer countries, and while doing this they protect themselves and their goods. In the agriculture sector, the developed countries have taken extreme measures, in order to protect their farming sectors OECD member states, and they go as far as to spend huge amounts of over US$350 billion annually and approximately 1 billion U.S dollars daily! This huge amount is a lot more than the budget allocated to assist the poorer countries, which only comes to 50 billion U.S dollars. (Ramos, 2003)

Globalisation can influence a country in more than one way. The perks of globalisation are that it allows countries to be economically stronger, it offers more trade and hence the world’s output is raised and that translates into higher economic growth which in turn provides countries with an opportunity to have higher living standards.

Globalisation has played a significant role in boosting the economies of Thailand, Malaysia, Korea and Singapore. These countries have seen extraordinary economic growth all through the nineties, even though a lot of them suffered from a recession in 1997. On the other hand, countries that were trying to accomplish sustainable growth might have been harmed by the effects of globalisation. For example countries like Africa opened their markets and were flooded with imports, but simultaneously they were unable to sell their exports. Therefore that meant a lower economic growth for these countries and hence somewhat lower standards of living.

Globalisation has surely influenced unemployment rates for the better. It has played a major role in creating huge numbers of jobs (millions) across and around the globe. Due to it, 27 million jobs worldwide are now related to exportation. On the other hand, globalization also means that new technologies have come into the practice to increase efficiency and When those newer technologies are put into practice then naturally it means that is implemented it generally means that some vacancies are unneeded and hence unnecessary. An additional factor behind domestic unemployment raising may be that due to globalisation free trade has succeeded in making numerous sectors of the domestic market unable to compete with the rest of the global market. An appropriate example of this would be the European Union, sponsoring their beef exports and hence making the Kenyan cattle farmers unable to compete and being forced to exit from the market.

Globalisation can also affect inflation. Countries that have higher rates of inflation will be considered less competitive globally due to the fact that their products will be higher priced than those of their counterparts, hence they are considered less competitive.

On the downside, Globalisation plays a major role in the living standards of various countries. Due to it, the poor seem to be getting even poorer. Before exposing countries to international competition governments must make sure that globalization doesn’t exploit a country’s workers and the quality of life of its citizens.

An example of a country benefiting from globalization is Poland. The country embraced the global economy and became a free market in 1990 and has made incredible progress since then. In the beginning, Poland experienced a sharp decline in GDP but then it recovered and has maintained a steady growth. Back in 1999, its GDP growth was 4.1%. Its private sector consists of more than 55% of the total GDP. In the early 1990s, Poland suffered from extreme inflation with levels that reached an alarming 1200%. By 1999 the inflation had gone down to 7.3%, even this inflation rate is high as compared to the developed countries but slowly and steadily it is decreasing. Back in the early nineties, Poland suffered from a huge unemployment rate but this too has decreased dramatically from 30% to 13%, which again shows a tremendous improvement. (Cainen, 2006)

In short, Globalisation can have positive or adverse effects on countries, it all depends on how the government uses it effectively and how it effectively prevents its’ people and policies from being exploited due to globalization.

Effective and thoughtful strategies should be thought out to implement globalization effectively and efficiently, ways that encourage basic human rights and sustainable development, making it possible for people to prosper, especially bringing prosperity to the poor and the most deprived. In case of not being carefully monitored and controlled, globalisation can lead to an even poorer world rather than helping to eliminate poverty. (Trade Union Congress, 2001)

Economically, globalization means the growth of the economy due to the goods and services being sold and bought. It’s also about the technology and information transfer across borders but in broader terms, globalization is not all economic growth it’s also about cross border interactions, exchange of thoughts and influences. Globalisation includes the transfer of knowledge as well as a culture across borders.

Globalization offers a variety of challenges as well as unlimited opportunities.

Some countries like Africa didn’t benefit from globalization in terms of combating poverty but regardless of that the country had progressed towards making progress in sustainable development. Mozambique has had impressive GDP growth in the last 5 years; also Mozambique has enjoyed macroeconomic stability along with low inflation and a stable environment for politics and businesses to thrive in.

Due to the betterment, Mozambique has successfully attracted various investments and hence much wanted revenue to the country. They have attracted projects such as investments for an aluminium smelter (MOZAL) worth over $ 2 billion, a natural gas pipeline running to South Africa worth around $ 1.2 billion, and other major projects such as heavy sands and so on.

Hence it’s obvious that the desire of following and maintaining sustainable development in a country lies with the people and the government of that particular country. If a country wants to make the world a better place for its coming generations then it will find ways to reserve resources for the future generations to come.

For poor countries eliminating poverty and working towards sustainable development may be tough appropriate resources and a relevant environment is not provided to them to work and progress in. Also, the masses of poor countries need to be educated to work towards eliminating poverty and sustainable development through globalization, as globalization will allow them to have international support, expertise and access to international technologies along with the international school of thought. International assistance is crucial financially as well as in developing global rules and protocols to follow and to stick to. Hence the developing countries along with the developed nations can work for the betterment of the planet Earth and its people.

Hand in hand, the richer nations along with the poorer nation should contribute towards a safer and better planet to live on for the present as well as the future generations. (S.E. Manuela Lucas, Ambassador of Mozambique, 2004)

Globalisation is a theory that wants to make the best of people’s potentials and their skills by sharing and transferring what others have learnt or mastered to those who don’t have the knowledge. The ever increasing interaction has changed the lives of the present as well as the future generations. This phenomenon creates, opportunities and challenges simultaneously. It is crucial for people to learn to adapt to the vast changes that globalisation has brought about or they would be left behind! The changes must be incorporated into everyday life to get the most out of this globalisation in order to improve the way of living in the present without compromising the lives of those who are yet to be born!

Poverty, globalization and sustainable development are all interlinked and globalisation can be used effectively to eliminate poverty and also to encourage and maintain sustainable development. (UNESCO International Conference, 2005)

At present, the challenges that the countries of the world face are to minimize the downfalls of globalization and to benefit from the positives of globalization and maximize the positive outcomes of globalization in order to eliminate poverty and implement sustainable development.

In the future, countries that will be quicker to adapt to newer ideas and will have free economies will be the countries that will benefit immensely from globalization. In the not so distant future, all the countries will need to operate within a global market to achieve the kind of success and prosperity that would be desired by the future race of humans. (Ramos, 2003)


Anup Shah, ‘Poverty Facts and Stats’, 2008, Web.

Fidel Ramos (Former President of the Philippines, 1992-98), ‘Globalisation with a Human Face’, 2003, Web.

National Curriculum in Action, ‘Geography’, 2001, Web.

Cainen, ‘Globalisation’, 2006, Web.

New World Encyclopedia, ‘Globalisation’, 2008, Web.

S.E. Manuela Lucas, Ambassador of Mozambique, ‘How can we make globalization work for sustainable development?’, 2004, Web.

Glossary, ‘Sustainable Development’, 1998, Web.

Trade Union Congress, ‘Making Globalisation Work for People’, 2001. Web.

UNESCO International Conference, ‘Globalisation’, 2005, Web.

Global Edge Glossary, 2008, Web.

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