Please accept my sincere congratulations on the first annual meeting of the Jordan National Forum for Inclusive Social Protection.
There is, as you underline in the meeting Concept Note, a need for “steadfast rights-based approaches that seek to empower individuals by upholding values of human dignity.”
There is as well an urgency to shift from assessing carrying capacity to assessing carrying capability, defined as the ability to empower and enable the most vulnerable and marginalized, regardless of their legal status. It is a matter of maximizing capabilities and minimizing deprivation.
Given that many of the Forum’s sessions will address strategies to overcome poverty and inequality, I would like to suggest that the following indices are fundamental to understanding the various dimensions of poverty and developing evidence-based, sustainable, and inclusive policies to alleviate all forms of deprivation:
The Social Progress Index measures the extent to which countries provide for their citizens’ social and environmental needs.
The SPI measures the well-being of a society by observing social and environmental outcomes, including wellness (health, shelter, and sanitation), equality, inclusion, sustainability, and personal freedom and safety, rather than economic factors, such as GDP per capita. However, the SPI does not sufficiently consider environmental hazards, energy usage, income inequality, gender inequality, and corruption.
On the other hand, the global Multidimensional Poverty Index shows both “who is poor – in terms of their age group, subnational region, and whether they live in an urban or rural area” – and how they are poor – in terms of which interlinked deprivations they face.
The index categorizes poverty into three dimensions: (1) Health (nutrition and child mortality), (2) Education (years of schooling), and (3) Living Standards (cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, and assets).
Moreover, it examines inequalities along the lines of ethnicity and gender across multidimensionally poor people globally.
Similarly, UNDP’s Special Report on Human Security examines a cluster of threats, including climate change. The report projects that 40 million people might die because of changes in temperatures before the end of the century.
Like the above indices, the UNDP report urges that “human security, planetary considerations, and human development all work together and not despite each other” and calls for “greater solidarity across borders and a new approach to development; one that allows people to live free from want, fear, anxiety and indignity.”
What the above indices have in common is that they are based on comprehensive, tested, and robust data. Their data collection and analysis processes are transparent and contestable, allowing numerous stakeholders to ideate, identify, and suggest diverse pathways for poverty alleviation.
Furthermore, the indices follow a clustering approach, dividing and grouping similar dimensions of poverty into thematic clusters, e.g., sanitation and electricity are grouped under the Living Standards cluster for the Multidimensional Poverty Index.
By integrating these evidence-based indices into policy design, implementation, and assessment processes, policymakers and international organizations can more effectively target resources and design solutions for poverty alleviation.
In conclusion, it is pivotal to move beyond narrow definitions of poverty and deprivation and advocate for policies that transcend territorial boundaries, foster resiliency, and development, and prioritize human dignity in the region and beyond. My best wishes go out to you in this crucial endeavor.
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