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- Global Issues -

Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues

That Affect Us All
-Bear in mind:
-Most data: 1998 – 2005
-Turning Point: 2007- 2008 Crisis
-World is changing more quickly:
-Ex.: Emerging Countries
-Also due to Globalization
1. Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two
dollars a day. source 1
2. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a
quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s
three richest people combined. source 2
3. Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or
sign their names. source 3
4. 51 percent of the world’s 100 hundred wealthiest bodies are
corporations. source 5
5. The wealthiest nation on Earth has the widest gap between rich and poor
of any industrialized nation. source 6
6. The poorer the country, the more likely it is that debt repayments are
being extracted directly from people who neither contracted the loans nor
received any of the money. source 7
7. 20% of the population in the developed nations, consume 86% of the
world’s goods. source 8
8. The top fifth of the world’s people in the richest countries enjoy 82% of
the expanding export trade and 68% of foreign direct investment — the
bottom fifth, barely more than 1%. source 9
9. In 1960, the 20% of the world’s people in the richest countries had 30
times the income of the poorest 20% — in 1997, 74 times as much. source

10. An analysis of long-term trends shows the distance between the richest
and poorest countries was about:
o 3 to 1 in 1820
o 11 to 1 in 1913
o 35 to 1 in 1950
o 44 to 1 in 1973
o 72 to 1 in 1992 source 11
11. “The lives of 1.7 million children will be needlessly lost this year [2000]
because world governments have failed to reduce poverty levels” source 12
12. The developing world now spends $13 on debt repayment for every $1 it
receives in grants. source 13
13. A few hundred millionaires now own as much wealth as the world’s
poorest 2.5 billion people. source 14
14. “The 48 poorest countries account for less than 0.4 per cent of global
exports.” source 15
15. “The combined wealth of the world’s 200 richest people hit $1 trillion in
1999; the combined incomes of the 582 million people living in the 43
least developed countries is $146 billion.” source 16
16. “Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still
chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of whom reside in Asia and
the Pacific.” source 18
17. According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And
they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed
from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak
in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”

That is about 210,000 children each week, or just under 11 million

children under five years of age, each year. source 19

18. “Today, across the world, 1.3 billion people live on less than one dollar a
day; 3 billion live on under two dollars a day; 1.3 billion have no access
to clean water; 3 billion have no access to sanitation; 2 billion have no
access to electricity.” source 21
19. The richest 50 million people in Europe and North America have the
same income as 2.7 billion poor people. “The slice of the cake taken by
1% is the same size as that handed to the poorest 57%.” source 22
20. The world’s 497 billionaires in 2001 registered a combined wealth of
$1.54 trillion, well over the combined gross national products of all the
nations of sub-Saharan Africa ($929.3 billion) or those of the oil-rich
regions of the Middle East and North Africa ($1.34 trillion). It is also
greater than the combined incomes of the poorest half of humanity. source

21. A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water,
and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World. source 24
22. Consider the global priorities in spending in 1998
Global Priority $U.S. Billions
Cosmetics in the United States 8
Ice cream in Europe 11
Perfumes in Europe and the United States 12
Pet foods in Europe and the United States 17
Business entertainment in Japan 35
Cigarettes in Europe 50
Alcoholic drinks in Europe 105
Narcotics drugs in the world 400
Military spending in the world 780
23. And compare that to what was estimated as additional costs to achieve
universal access to basic social services in all developing countries:

Global Priority $U.S. Billions

Basic education for all 6
Water and sanitation for all 9
Reproductive health for all women 12
Global Priority $U.S. Billions
Basic health and nutrition 13
24. source 25
25. Number of children in the world
2.2 billion
Number in poverty
1 billion (every second child)
Shelter, safe water and health

For the 1.9 billion children from the developing world, there are:

o 640 million without adequate shelter (1 in 3)

o 400 million with no access to safe water (1 in 5)
o 270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7)

Children out of education worldwide

121 million
Survival for children


o 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (same
as children population in France, Germany, Greece and Italy)
o 1.4 million die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water
and adequate sanitation

Health of children


o 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized
o 15 million children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS (similar to the total
children population in Germany or United Kingdom)
source 26

26. The total wealth of the top 8.3 million people around the world “rose 8.2
percent to $30.8 trillion in 2004, giving them control of nearly a quarter of
the world’s financial assets.”

In other words, about 0.13% of the world’s population controlled 25% of

the world’s assets in 2004. source 27

Notes and Sources

1) This figure is based on purchasing power parity (PPP), which basically

suggests that prices of goods in countries tend to equate under floating
exchange rates and therefore people would be able to purchase the same
quantity of goods in any country for a given sum of money. That is, the notion
that a dollar should buy the same amount in all countries. Hence if a poor
person in a poor country living on a dollar a day moved to the U.S. with no
changes to their income, they would still be living on a dollar a day. In addition,
see the following:

 Ignacio Ramonet, The politics of hunger, Le Monde diplomatique,

November 1998
 The 9th International Anti-Corruption Conference Plenary Address by
James Wolfensohn, August 2000
 March recognizes the billions living on less than two dollars a day,, October 24, 2000
 The poverty lines: population living with less than 2 dollars and less than
1 dollar a day from provides two maps showing the
concentration of people living on less than 1 and 2 dollars per day,
around the world.
 Also note that these numbers, from the World Bank, have been
questioned and criticized.
o The World Bank has been criticized for almost arbitrarily coming
up with a definition of a poverty line to mean one dollar per day (of
which they say there are about 1.3 billion people). That figure and
how it has been chosen has been much criticized by many, as
shown by University of Ottawa Professor, Michel Chossudovsky in
the previous link.
o In addition, as also stated in the previous link, in the United States
for example, the poverty threshold for a family of four has been
estimated to be around eleven dollars per day. The one dollar a
day definition then misses out much of humanity to understand the
impacts. Even the two dollars per day that I have pointed out here,
while affecting half of humanity, also misses out the numbers
under three or four, or eleven dollars per day. These statistics are
harder to find, and as I come across them, I will post them here!
o As an aside, Morgan Spurlock, the Oscar nominee for his
documentary Super Size Me where he went 30 days on a diet of
burgers only to see the effects, produced another documentary
where for 30 days he tried to live on the minimum wage of $5.15
per hour. At times he was earning $50 to $70 a day and yet the
tremendous hardships he faced was incredible (including a
ludicrous $40 for a bandage in a hospital, and some $500 for just
being seen to).
o More fundamental than that though, for example, is a critique from
Columbia University, called How not to count the poor . The
report describes an ill-defined poverty line, a misleading and
inaccurate measure of purchasing power equivalence, and false
precision as the three main errors that may lead to “a large
understatement of the extent of global income poverty and to an
incorrect inference that it has declined.” (Emphasis added). This
allows the World Bank to insist that the world is indeed “on the
right track” in terms of poverty reduction strategy, attributing this
“success” to the design and implementation of “good” or “better
 But the statistic is not lost on some of the most prominent people in the
o The New York Times in one of their email updates, in their Quote
of the Day section, for July 18, 2001 provided the following quote:
“A world where some live in comfort and plenty, while half of the
human race lives on less than $2 a day, is neither just, nor stable.”
— President Bush
o See also James Wolfenson, The Other Crisis, World Bank,
October 1998 who said: “Today, across the world, 1.3 billion
people live on less than one dollar a day; 3 billion live on under
two dollars a day; 1.3 billion have no access to clean water; 3
billion have no access to sanitation; 2 billion have no access to
electricity.” (See also note 21 below.)
o Koffi Anan, UN Secretary General, in a speech on the
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, 17 October 2000,
said “Almost half the world’s population lives on less than two
dollars a day, yet even this statistic fails to capture the humiliation,
powerlessness and brutal hardship that is the daily lot of the
world’s poor.”

2) Ignacio Ramonet, The politics of hunger, Le Monde Diplomatique, November


3) The State of the World’s Children, 1999, UNICEF

5) See the following:

 Holding Transnationals Accountable, IPS, August 11, 1998

 Top 200: The Rise of Corporate Global Power, by Sarah Anderson and
John Cavanagh, Institute for Policy Studies, November 2000

6) The Corporate Planet, Corporate Watch, 1997

7) Debt - The facts, Issue 312 - May 1999, New Internationalist

8) 1998 Human Development Report, United Nations Development Programme

9) 1999 Human Development Report, United Nations Development Programme

10) Ibid

11) Ibid

12) Missing the Target; The price of empty promises, Oxfam, June 2000

13) Global Development Finance, World Bank, 1999

14) Economics forever; Building sustainability into economic policy PANOS

Briefing 38, March 2000
15) Human Development Report 2000, p. 82, United Nations Development

16) Ibid, p. 82

18) World Resources Institute Pilot Analysis of Global Ecosystems, February

2001, (in the Food Feed and Fiber section). Note, that dispite the food
production rate being better than population growth rate, there is still so much
hunger around the world.

19) See the following:

 Progress of Nations 2000, UNICEF, 2000;

 Robert E. Black, Saul S Morris, Jennifer Bryce, Where and why are 10
million children dying every year?, The Lancet, Volume 361, Number
9376, 28 June 2003. (Note, while the article title says 10 million, their
paper says 10.8 million.)
 State of the World’s Children, 2005, UNICEF (this cites the number as
10.6 million in 2003)

Note that the statistic cited uses children as those under the age of five. If it was
say 6, or 7, the numbers would be even higher.

21) James Wolfenson, The Other Crisis, World Bank, October 1998, quoted
from The Reality of Aid 2000, (Earthscan Publications, 2000), p.10

22) Larry Elliott, A cure worse than the disease, The Guardian, January 21,

23) John Cavanagh and Sarah Anderson , World’s Billionaires Take a Hit, But
Still Soar, The Institute for Policy Studies, March 6, 2002

24) Maude Barlow, Water as Commodity - The Wrong Prescription, The Institute
for Food and Development Policy, Backgrounder, Summer 2001, Vol. 7, No. 3

25) Consumerism, Volunteer Now! (undated)

26) State of the World’s Children, 2005, UNICEF

27) Eileen Alt Powell, Some 600,000 join millionaire ranks in 2004, Associate
Press, June 9, 2005
En el cuadro 5 se observa que el per cápita, desde la perspectiva de los
pobres, es de 4,2 dólares por persona pobre, considerando todas las formas y
fuentes de cooperación internacional. Es de toda evidencia que estos
mecanismos no lograrán producir cambios significativos en la situación de la
distribución mundial de los ingresos.

Cuadro 5

Relación entre la pobreza y cooperación internacional

en 10 países seleccionados

Países en desarrollo Pobres (en Porcentaje del ODA* per Porcentaje

con alto número de millones) total pobres cápita (en del total
personas pobres mundo millones de ODA* mundo
dólares de los
India 410 34,2 1,8 3,5
China** 120 9,9 1,8 4,7
Bangladesh 99 8,3 18,0 4,7
Indonesia 70 5,8 9,3 3,9
Pakistán 37 3,1 8,8 2,5
Filipinas 36 3,0 20,3 2,9
Brasil 33 2,8 1,1 0,4
Etiopía 30 2,5 17,7 2,0
Myanmar 17 1,4 4,7 0,4
Tailandia 17 1,4 14,1 1,8
869 72,4 4,2 26,8

*Ayuda Internacional al Desarrollo

** El número de pobres en China es estimado por el Banco Mundial en 100

millones, pero sólo de pobreza rural. Para este cuadro se utiliza el total del
país, estimado en 120 millones.

Fuente: PNUD, Desarrollo humano: Informe 1992, tabla 3.11.