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2 degrees more – so what?

Climate protection at the local level

as part of the fight against poverty

What is poverty?

Several items
Poverty is caused by a lack of income, shelter, educational opportunities, access to medical sanitation and social contacts (© LAZ).

Poverty has many faces

What defines the term poverty? When is a person considered poor? For decades, national and international NGOs, governments, foundations, scientific and research institutions and companies have been discussing these questions. Hence there are different definitions of poverty.

Absolute and relative poverty

Some definitions of poverty primarily look at people’s income. According to the World Bank, an individual is considered poor if his or her daily income is less than 1.25 US-$.

Meanwhile, the concept of relative poverty is based on the social environment surrounding people. An individual’s income is assessed in relation to the country’s average per capita income, which explains the term ‘relative’. Poor is someone who has significantly less than his fellow human beings. Many concepts define relative poverty as earning less than 60 percent of a country’s average per capita income.

The Human Development Index

However, poverty has many facets and is often more than just a lack of money. Poor health and access to medical assistance, inadequate education, exclusion from social processes or few social contacts are all indicators of poverty. The United Nations’ Index for Human Development (Human Development Index, HDI) is an attempt to measure country development not only through the lens of financial indicators e.g. per capita income. Therefore, in addition to the per capita income, the HDI considers such factors as life expectancy and educational level of a respective country. The numeric value of the HDI ranks between 0 and 1. The higher a country scores on the HDI, the higher it is perceived to be developed.

Causes and consequences of poverty

The causes of poverty are identical to the consequences and, moreover, several causes and consequences occur at the same time. Poverty becomes a vicious circle that constantly re-enforces itself and thereby prevents people from escaping poverty through their own efforts. Lack of educational opportunities, bad governance, debt, natural disasters, diseases, hunger and malnutrition, wars and armed conflicts all constrain human development. Increasingly, environmental degradation and climate change also threaten people’s existence and cause poverty levels to surge globally.

Poverty distribution

In Asia, there are more people living with less than 1,25 US-$ per day than on any other continent. In Africa, however, the proportion of poor people among the total population is the highest. In the countries of South America, too, many people still live in poverty.

There is not only a poverty divergence between countries but also an unequal distribution of poverty within countries. In many cases women are more affected by poverty than men; people residing in rural areas face greater threats to fall deeper into poverty or being born poor when compared to urban citizens. Furthermore, children, older people and indigenous communities are at higher risk to be poor.

Fight against poverty

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