Gaborone, Botswana "Poverty eradication is a plausible and attainable goal.” This sentiment was echoed by stakeholders, front-line workers, development practitioners, government representatives and academics throughout the international conference on "Leaving No One Behind: The Fight Against Poverty, Exclusion and Inequality” which took place in Gaborone, Botswana, on March 20-21.

“As a nation, we are committed to prioritizing eradication of poverty and ... we are in the process of finalizing Botswana’s Poverty Eradication Strategy which will help us advance our efforts,” said Botswana’s President, Lt. General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

President Khama said as the poverty eradication program was rolled out, emphasis was given to targeting more vulnerable groups such as women and the youth through additional initiatives such as the Youth Development Fund and the Women Economic Empowerment, amongst others.

Delegates at the poverty conference jointly hosted by the Government of Botswana and UNDP stressed the need for national commitment and participation for success in fighting poverty. They agreed that it is not enough to frame the Leave NO One Behind Principle (LNOB) in terms of poverty, instead it is about vulnerabilities – i.e., discrimination, exclusion, marginalization – i.e. not just the poor and those who don’t have access to services/assets and income, but those who are vulnerable because of who they  are, their identities.

What has emerged from the conference is the recognition that people and groups left behind face multiple and interconnected vulnerabilities, that go beyond income poverty: i.e., financial exclusion (limited/no access to finance), social exclusion (issues related to access to and quality of services), economic exclusion (issues related to productive assets, technology, know-how, markets, employment, etc), political exclusion (issues related to access to justice, participation in political processes and decision making, etc), vulnerability to climate-related shocks, exclusion from access to natural resources, and other.

“Participation and inclusion of the poor and marginalized is key to poverty eradication efforts and the realization of all Sustainable Development Goals because it ensures programmes and policies are responsive to need and that development is inclusive, leaving no one behind," said Jacinta Barrins, UNDP Resident Representative in Botswana.

Many delegates talked about the importance of data in identifying who are the poor and how they can be targeted as well as the need for disaggregated data at all levels. Delegates also discussed the methods used to measure poverty and encouraged the use of multi- dimensional approaches.

“Botswana has benefited tremendously from this conference, as well as from the preparatory process, and the Conference Outcome Document will assist in effective implementation of, as well as evaluation of Poverty Eradication programmes," Botswana’s Vice President, Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi told the audience in his closing remarks.

The discussions at the conference will be considered when finalizing the draft Botswana’s National Poverty Eradication Strategy that is currently being developed.

The two-day event brought together more than 400 participants from a select group of countries that have been successful in reducing extreme poverty, exclusion and inequality. The panelists shared theoretical and strategic approaches, challenges and lessons learned, drawing on their global experiences.

The latest statistics from a 2016 World Bank Report indicates that more than 700 million people or 10 percent of the world's population still live in extreme poverty, majority of them are women and children.

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