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U.N. Panel Member Says Ending Extreme Poverty Possible

John Podesta

John Podesta, former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and a distinguished visitor from practice at Georgetown, said that extreme poverty could end "in our time."

October 2, 2013 – A former White House chief of staff to President Clinton said ending extreme poverty is possible by 2030 during a talk at Georgetown yesterday on the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals and Post-2015 Development Agenda.

“I do think there’s hope,” said John Podesta, a distinguished visitor from practice at Georgetown who serves as the only American on the Post-2015 Development Agenda panel. “I think there’s a way forward, and I don’t think there’s very far to look to find a path.”

Podesta joined a discussion on campus with Steven Radelet, distinguished professor in the practice of development; Gillette Hall, visiting associate professor; and Ann Van Dusen, director of the Global Human Development Program and event moderator.


The event was co-sponsored by the Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the Global Human Development Program at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.

The Millennium Development Goals, set by the United Nations in 2000, include halving extreme poverty rates and promoting gender equality by 2015.

The Post-2015 Development Agenda aims to eradicate poverty and transform economics by 2030.

Ending Extreme Poverty

“The Millennium Agenda was different,” said Podesta, who also serves as chair of the Center for American Progress and the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “The goals were clear, measurable, easy to understand and came with a deadline.”

But he also said, “We can end extreme poverty in our time,” about the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Radelet said eliminating poverty by 2030 is a daunting task, but an appropriate goal.

“It’s much better to set a tough target and not quite achieve it than to make an easy target and deem it a success,” he said.


The Georgetown panel also talked about climate change and other environmental concerns.

“The [United States] has to step up to the plate,” Podesta said, and set the global example by leading the charge toward sustainability in collaboration with the public and private sectors.

“I think the U.S. and China and the [European Union] have to be the leaders here and have to not just talk but change their own policies,” Hall said.

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