FP: Worldwide would you put a target year on that goal?
Clark: Well, I think if the world was being really ambitious, it would say: Take 10 years from 2015 and go for it, and just say it's not acceptable for people to be living under that $1.25 a day mark. It's just not acceptable. So what can we do to change that? Apart from government policies needing to be clear-headed, there's a range of other things that will help -- if there's significant climate finance coming down the stream, which will help countries make investments in climate-resilient agriculture, for example. Positive outcomes from the world trade rounds would help. I think making official development assistance very catalytic and impactful, so that it focuses on what's important, would help.
But then the other thing that would help is an end to war and armed violence, because how do we eradicate extreme poverty in the center or south of Somalia if it's embroiled in conflict? Conflict de-develops. And if you look at the problem of armed violence now in parts of the Latin American Caribbean region, it's very alarming. And then the way the organized crime and drug trade is trans-shipping from there into very fragile countries like Guinea-Bissau, which has just had another coup. I mean, how do countries ever get a clear run at tackling extreme poverty if they're just drowned by these basic problems of peace and security?
FP: Is there a particular message you're bringing this weekend to the World Bank/IMF meetings?
Clark: The Development Committee of the World Bank meets this afternoon, and we [the UNDP] get called on to speak. ... The key point on the agenda today is around social protection systems. So I will make the point that social protection systems are absolutely critical in every country, because they stop people and countries from losing the ground they've made on development. If you don't have a social protection, a safety net, when a shock comes along -- whether it's an economic shock or it's a natural disaster -- people get knocked over. And that may be a loss of human well-being that is never made up again. ... I often point out that in countries we regard as some of the most developed -- like yours, like mine, European countries -- we introduced these systems not when we were rich but when we were poor, as a response to the Great Depression, because it was considered so shocking to see people slip below any decent standard of living into outright destitution. But only about 20 percent of working-age people in the world today are covered by social protection schemes, so there's a way to go.
But in terms of effectiveness -- and I'll mention this in my brief comments today -- take a scheme like the Mexican one, Oportunidades, which is targeted at poor families. That scheme stopped the impact of the global crisis destroying living standards for the poor in Mexico. So even though Mexico's GDP contracted quite severely with the spillover from what had happened in the markets to the north, they cushioned the poor from it. And these schemes are quite affordable; we say in the range of 1 to 2 percent of GDP -- I don't even think it cost that in Mexico. ... And there's quite a number of these now: Brazil's Bolsa Familia, Chile's got one. So we're really pushing this quite hard.