Nearly 3 billion people live in a country which reports a national MPI – Sabina Alkire discusses multidimensional poverty at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

9 July, 2024

OPHI Director, Sabina Alkire, has spoken today at the Official Meeting of ‘SDG 1 and interlinkages with other SDGs – No Poverty’ at the 2024 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The HLPF this year supports the implementation of the 2023 Political Declaration and other outcomes of last September’s SDG Summit for advancing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The Forum convenes governments, the private sector, civil society and other partners to review progress towards the SDGs and highlight innovative solutions. The Official Meeting today was a high-level event to take stock of progress towards SDG 1 (and its interlinked SDGs) in the second half of the journey towards achieving 2030 Agenda.

In her presentation, Sabina acknowledged that SDG 1 focuses on multidimensional poverty – people who are left behind in multiple SDGs – alongside monetary poverty reduction. She described how 3.5 billion people live in 84 countries that report on multidimensional poverty in the Global SDG Indicators Database, and how just under three billion people live in a country that reports a national Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).

Sabina observed that currently, half to two-thirds of countries are not on track to meet the SDG Target 1.2 of cutting by half the proportion of men, women and children living in monetary or multidimensional poverty according to national definitions. That was deeply sobering, Sabina reflected. Yet, she also noted that ‘despite all of the crises and travails, one-third to half of countries are on track.’

Sabina shared three main suggestions with the audience on how to accelerate progress. The first was to ‘aim for success’ and learn from examples of strong poverty reduction. For example, Maldives, a Small Island Developing State, cut its MPI rate from 70.2% to 28.4% in 7.5 years. In 13 years, Colombia cut theirs from 29.7% to 12.1% in 2023. And in India, multidimensional poverty fell from 25% to 15%, while over a hundred million Indians exited poverty in 4.5 years.  Sabina commented in passing how 72 of the 114 countries that do not report a national MPI (under SDG indicator 1.2.2) could use, or adapt and approve, a global MPI estimate jointly produced by UNDP-OPHI.

Sabina’s second main suggestion was to use poverty data to tighten budgeting, targeting, and policy co-ordination. MPI and other data ‘make visible the interlinked deprivations that are reduced by integrated policies’. So, in times of fiscal crisis, existing resources bring powerful change.

Her third main suggestion was to set a national target for poverty reduction with frequent updates, and a high-profile management structure ‘led by a deeply committed leader’ to garner momentum and drive change. She recognised the role that many hands play in moving the needle of poverty including the private sector, CSOs, and above all the protagonists themselves.

In closing, Sabina reminded the audience that ‘leadership and use of data can be transformative, so we are right to hope, to aim to change’.

During the event, distinguished representatives from Botswana, Chile, Guatemala, the Holy See, India, Malaysia and South Africa all discussed multidimensional poverty and MPIs in their interventions from the floor.

The distinguished representative of Botswana informed the audience ‘by complementing traditional monetary measures, the MPI allows for a more holistic tracking of poverty levels in the country…Its detailed analysis of various deprivation factors enables policymakers to identify and address specific needs and the vulnerabilities within the population ensuring that no one is left behind. It guides the planning and the development of more relevant and targeted interventions which can effectively improve the wellbeing of the most vulnerable members of society. Moreover, the results of the MPI will inform the budgeting process ensuring that resource allocation is prioritised to those who are most marginalized.’

The distinguished representative of Guatemala reported ‘for the first time the MPI – and its five dimensions – is being used to focus and to align strategic actions that respond to the main problems of households. This is an intersectoral strategy, both coordinated and focused, and we aim to achieve greater efficiency when it comes to allocating resources and ensuring greater social investment compared to what we’ve seen in the past decades.’

In his closing remarks to the Official Meeting, panellist Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva, Global Director for the World Bank Group’s Poverty and Equity Global Practice, summarised how ‘poverty has to be understood, measured and tackled with a multidimensional framework and that means we have to change the way we think about poverty and the way we act on poverty’.

According to the Political Declaration, poverty remains ‘the greatest global challenge’. To help support the 2030 Agenda, OPHI has published a Briefing on reporting multidimensional poverty data under SDG Indicator 1.2.2.  It summarises how countries are reporting progress on reducing poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions (SDG 1.2).

Sabina Alkire will be appearing in a series of Side Events and a VNR lab at this year’s Forum, which runs from 8-17 July.


HLPF events 


More information 

MPI Multidimensional Poverty United Nations