Over a 10-year period, 271 million people were lifted out of poverty. The United Nations has expanded its definition of poverty to include not just economic poverty, but also lack of electricity, malnutrition, and limited access to education. The 2019 U.N. Multidimensional Poverty Index found that 23% of 1.3 billion people studied are in poverty. India has made the most progress against poverty. Before Narendra Modi assumed power in 2014, only 40% of the population had access to a household toilet; according to the government, 99% of households have toilets as of last month. According to the World Bank, the percentage of Indians with access to electricity has increased from 70% to 93% since 2007.
In a historic first, the country has put an end to statelessness within its borders by granting citizenship and birth certificates to all identified stateless people. The stateless are those with no officially recognized nationality, something that often leads to difficulty accessing basic rights such as education and jobs. They are disenfranchised as well. There are some 3.9 million stateless people worldwide; Kyrgyzstan’s new citizenship laws reduced the number of stateless people from more than 13,000 to zero in five years. Statelessness was a particular problem in Kyrgyzstan, a result of the violence surrounding the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
For the first time since 1990, provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that drug overdose deaths declined last year. The 5% decline is due to a drop in opioid-related deaths. Fatal overdoses from other drugs such as methamphetamines continue to rise, however. Although experts say this points to a promising trend, the death toll still exceeds the nation’s peaks for annual deaths from car crashes and guns. Observers point to tightened regulations on prescription painkillers and improved substance abuse treatment. Federal grants for substance abuse prevention and treatments will run out next year, and some are concerned the progress could come to a halt if Congress shifts its focus elsewhere.
(U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
This summer, Britain passed legislation to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Plans include phasing out production of diesel and petroleum cars by 2035, and a 20% reduction in beef and lamb consumption. Britain is the first of the largest economies to have passed net-zero emissions legislation. Critics say the timeline should be much shorter, with goals for achieving net-zero by 2025.
In July, the government achieved gender parity in the Cabinet for the first time. Among the 16 newly appointed Cabinet ministers, 8 are women. Guinea-Bissau’s parliament unanimously passed a law in August 2018 that set quotas for women’s representation in parliament. The measure is considered temporary until equal gender representation is evident. A partnership between the United Nations and Guinea-Bissau was formed to ensure women were supported and trained by activists to prepare for elections. U.N. studies show that quotas are an effective way to support gender parity initiatives.