The UN presented a report on the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on poverty and its conclusions were demoralizing: “The worst is yet to come.” The Pandemic offers the world the unexpected opportunity to change its development model to one that reduces the ecological footprint, creates employment opportunities for the least skilled and guarantees a decent life for families. This as reflected by the social thinker and UN rapporteur on the extreme poverty, Olivier de Schutter.
This conclusion is the result of many years analyzing how market forces and their influence on political decisions have deepened inequalities, a process that he not only studied, but began to observe directly when he was the UN rapporteur.
We must take advantage of this moment to reorient the economy in a more durable direction, both from an ecological and social justice point of view“, De Schutter states.
This new orientation cannot wait any longer, as the professor at several prestigious universities recalls, who affirms that “the weeks and months that come will be absolutely decisive because it will be chosen which companies to help, which economic sectors to support and what type of support system we want for social protection”. Someone will have to pay for all that, which will force many countries to carry out fiscal reforms, through which they will decide who should finance it.
“The decisions taken today will be decisive for the next ten to fifteen years,” he stresses, thus calling for reflection on the broken promises that followed the financial and economic crisis of 2008, after which there was a new wave of austerity and of weakening of public services, including health.
In Poverty, The Worst Is Yet To Come
A few days ago, the rapporteur presented to the UN Human Rights Council, which is meeting in Geneva, the report that it had commissioned him, on the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on poverty and his conclusions were demoralizing.
This warning is based on the fact that the relief measures that many States adopted to cover the break in income due to the stoppage of economies during the confinements have expired or are about to do so.
“The worst is yet to come in terms of the impact on household income, since States have the impression that, in the medium term, they cannot maintain these measures,” he explains.
“The real shock on poverty will occur in the next three to six months. We await with great fear what will happen in many countries,” acknowledges the expert.