It really could happen: Wipe out extreme poverty, MPs urge

By staff

Politicians could manage to eradicate extreme poverty for good, MPs are urging, ahead of a key international summit next week.

David Cameron will co-chair the UN high level negotiation in which decisions will be taken about the development targets to succeed the millennium development goals (MDGs), which are set to expire in 2015.

The original MDGs contained a target of halving extreme poverty, which a person is judged to be facing if they earn less than $£1.25 a day. That target is going to be met, leading to calls for extreme poverty to be wiped out completely over the next ten years.

The British prime minister, who will take charge on the international stage as the successor targets are negotiated in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, is being urged by the Commons' international development committee to push for simple and measurable goals.

"Aiming to eradicate extreme poverty is ambitious, of course, but for the first time in human history it is also eminently achievable," committee chair Sir Malcolm Bruce said.

"The MDGs have been successful in halving extreme poverty, but progress has been very unequal. Now is the time to focus on those who have been left behind."

Cameron has talked of a 'golden thread' of governance-related issues, like respect for property and an independent judiciary, which he thinks should be included in the new goals.

These are worthy but should be defined in a more clear and consistent fashion, today's report from MPs says.

"It is great that the prime minister has had the opportunity to co-chair such an important panel, but it is essential that he remains engaged once the panel's work is over," Bruce added.

He called on Cameron to use the two years before the new goals are finally unveiled to lobby other heads of government to back the new goals, and mobilise public opinion to support the panel's agenda.