The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed the steady progress in poverty reduction of the past 25 years. This reversal is exacerbated by rising inflation and the impacts of the war in Ukraine. It is estimated that these combined crises will push an additional 75 to 95 million people into extreme poverty in 2022, compared to pre-pandemic projections. As the economic impacts of these crises begin to be felt strongly, the importance of robust social protection systems to protect the poor and vulnerable is becoming clearer than ever. Although many new social protection measures were introduced in 2020, only 47 percent of the global population are effectively covered by at least one social cash benefit system, leaving 4.1 billion people unprotected.
The triple threat of COVID-19, conflict and climate change pushes the global goal of ending poverty by 2030 beyond reach, unless immediate and substantial policy actions are implemented. Global poverty has risen from 8.3 percent in 2019 to 9.2 percent in 2020, setting back poverty reduction by around three years. The strongest impact has been in low-income countries, which have been set back eight to nine years.
There is a critical need for better emergency preparedness for future pandemics and other hazards that cause disasters. Proactive risk reduction is imperative in joint efforts to design a sustainable future and prevent potentially hazardous events from devolving into full-blown disasters. Nowhere is this more evident than in agriculture, which underpins the livelihoods of over 2.5 billion people worldwide and provides nourishment for all 7.9 billion people on the planet. The growing frequency and intensity of disasters are putting at risk agricultural communities and the food system at large, highlighting the urgency of building more resilient agricultural systems.