At the 2000 UN Millennium Summit, the largest ever gathering of world leaders pledged to work together to help the world’s poorest people. They agreed on a set of targets that became known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The deadline they set themselves to meet these was 31 December 2015. With just over two years until the MDGs expire, how much progress has been made and what should happen next?

There have of course been successes: the world has already met the first MDG target of halving the world’s population living in extreme poverty (on less than USD 1.25 per day). But 1.2 billion people are still living in extreme poverty and vulnerability remains high. At the same time, problems in measuring poverty present barriers to effective policy making. Progress has also been uneven – not all countries, regions, age groups, social sectors or genders have benefited equally from the advances that have been made. The truth is, the quality of life has not improved for all.

This December, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will launch their new report on Ending Poverty. To coincide with this, Intelligence Squared will host a panel of experts to discuss the key issues that the report raises. How should we measure poverty? What can we learn from local solutions for tackling poverty? How can the fast progress made by middle-income countries like China provide lessons for Africa? How can we be “smarter” about how we use aid flows? How do we ensure that the next set of goals will be not just about “getting to zero” poverty, but about staying there?

On 5 December, thought-leaders from the world’s leading development think tanks, the OECD, academia and civil society offered different perspectives on these questions, and discussed what needs to be done to end poverty after 2015.


Sabina AlkireSabina Alkire

Director at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford


Jamie DrummondJamie Drummond

Executive Director and Head of Global Strategy at ONE


Priyanthi FernandoPriyanthi Fernando

Executive Director for the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) in Colombo, Sri Lanka


Homi KharasHomi Kharas (via video-link)

Executive Secretary of the secretariat supporting the UN High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Senior Fellow and Deputy Director for the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution


Erik SolheimErik Solheim

Chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee and Former Minister of the Environment and International Development, Norway


Matthew TaylorMatthew Taylor

Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)    

Watch the infographic

Photos from the event


To end poverty we also need to ensure equality and sustainability by Erik Solheim

There seems to be strong political will to do what is needed to end poverty once and for all. But what, concretely, do we need to do? Many things, if we’re going to do it right.” (Read the blog)

Can we really end poverty? The debate by Brian Keeley

If the international community is to achieve the goal of eradicating extreme poverty, a number of the panelists argued that it will need to do more to move closer to the lives of poor communities and beyond the big global and national averages that can conceal those who are being left behind.” (Read the blog)

What will it take to end Poverty? by Erik Solheim

We have the policies and the resources we need to end poverty. What we need now is political will.” (Read the blog)

Personal Testimonials

José Ángel Gurría: ending poverty completely and forever

Andrew Shepherd: How to get people out of chronic poverty

Jorge Daccarett: ODA stands for Official Development Assistance

Jon Lomøy: Aid has got to become smarter

Erik Solheim: Eradicating Absolute Poverty – ‘Yes, We Can’

OECD - Development Co-operation Report 2013

DCR Preview Chapters

In the build up to our debate we’ll be previewing a chapter a week from the OECD’s new Development Co-operation Report, Ending Poverty, ahead of the report’s launch this December. Click on the links below to read.

What will it take to end extreme poverty? by Andy Sumner

How do we get to zero on poverty – and stay there? by Andrew Shepherd

What can Africa learn from China’s agricultural miracle? by Xiaoyun Li

Making international development co-operation strong enough to end poverty by Jon Lomøy